The combined unions of dockworkers in Germany, Netherlands, France, United Kingdom and Belgium as well as the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) met in Rotterdam today to discuss the threats of overcapacity and on-going automation of terminals.
Dockworkers’ unions in the so-called ‘Hamburg-Le Havre Range’ will also examine the expansion of global terminal operator DP World in Europe during this two-day meeting. The parties will look into possible ways of improving the industrial relationship between DP World and labor unions, as well as seek to develop a strategy to force the port operator to start talks about a collective bargaining agreement for the workers at all of their 5 terminals in the Range.
Seaports are facing numerous challenges from changes in container shipping and extra terminal capacity being built in many northern European ports.
Already many terminal operators are functioning below full utilisation and fail to realise their investments in their new, state-of-the-art terminals.
Throughout the Range, ports are pushed into hefty competition, enticing shipping companies with ever-lower prices and higher discounts, further undermining the financial stability of terminal operators and endangering the working conditions of dockworkers, ETF claims.
At the same time, automation leads to a decline in employment. Some indicate that Rotterdam, with its high levels of automation, may lose up to 20% of the jobs in its port industry, according to ETF.