Dockers at the Port of Rotterdam’s ECT terminal refused to unload a vessel on Sunday as a sign of protest amid job loss fears, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) said.
The vessel Alsvin was loaded at the newly opened Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) in what was believed to be a test operation and forwarded to the ECT terminal for discharging.
The dockers had voiced concerns about the impacts of automation and overcapacity on all existing terminals in the port and its workforce.
According to cargo handling data collected by members, the opening of the new automated terminals APMT Maasvlakte 2 and Rotterdam Gateway (RGW) could cut as many as 1,000 jobs if shipping lines move their business to the new terminals in the coming years.
The ITF and the FNV Bondgenoten trade union had urged repeatedly for urgent dialogue on the future of the port of Rotterdam.
“Rotterdam is a giant among the world’ ports and should be a model of good industrial relations. It is notable that all the operators there bar one have signed agreements with the union representing its workers. This is despite many previous warnings and widespread concern about the port’s future,” said ITF President, Paddy Crumlin, commenting on the recent protest.
“We urge all parties, and that includes not just all operators and port authorities, but also the shipping lines, to get together to defuse this situation and reach an agreed settlement to ensure the dispute does not escalate more widely.”