The ultimatum given by Rotterdam dockworkers’ union FNV Havens to their employers at the port and the port authority has expired and the unions have launched a 24-hour strike earlier today, the union confirmed.
As disclosed, the strike is taking place at the ECT Delta Terminal, at Uniport and APM terminals. This is the first time in thirteen years that there is a major strike in the port of Rotterdam, which employs around 3,600 dockworkers.
The talks between the two sides fell through in December last year as the employers and port authority left the negotiating table where discussions were being held with the unions on the financial contribution the port of Rotterdam is expected to pay to compensate for the social consequences of automation and overcapacity in the container sector.
Namely, construction of automated terminals, including the second Maasvlakte in the next few years is expected to cost dockworkers hundreds of jobs.
According to the union, in the gloomiest scenario up to 700 jobs out of the existing 4,000 could disappear by 2017.
The dockworkers are asking for their jobs to be guaranteed at least until 2020, subject to possible extension should the overcapacity problem persist.
Whether further industrial action would be pursued depends upon the continuation of talks as unions are urging the parties to return to the negotiation table.
The consequences of a wider-scale strike would be enormous for the port as numerous companies could move their businesses from Rotterdam to neighboring rivals Antwerp or Hamburg.
World Maritime News Staff