ITF, ETF Stand Firm behind Rotterdam Dockworkers’ Strike

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) voiced their support to the affiliated Dutch dockers’ union FNV Havens as they began industrial action on Thursday 7 January at the Port of Rotterdam.

Union members walked out of work and onto the picket line at 3.15pm local time after employers failed to meet demands over job guarantees once two new Maasvlakte terminals become fully operational in Rotterdam. Both the APMT and the ECT terminals will be affected for a 24-hour period, the union said.

“Hundreds of jobs are being put at risk because there just isn’t the industry growth in Rotterdam to sustain these new terminals as well as the existing ones; employers are trying to play musical chairs with our jobs!,”  said FNV Havens secretary Niek Stam while speaking Thursday about the impact of increased automation and overcapacity at container terminals in Rotterdam.

FNV Havens wants a guarantee of job security for all employees who had a permanent job on 1 January 2015, until at least 2022.

Representatives from BTB in Belgium, Ver.di in Germany and CGT in Le Havre, France have joined Dutch workers on the picket line.

 “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the Port of Rotterdam. The decision to take strike action is not an easy one but after months of fruitless negotiation and on an issue this important, dockers here have been left with little choice. They have the support of transport workers around the world,” second vice chair of the ITF dockers’ section and vice chair of the ETF dockers’ section Torben Seebold said.

Commenting on the strike, Rotterdam Port Authority said that no agreement could be reached between all parties about the full set of demands of the trade unions regarding measures to address the possible redundancy of employees in the coming years.

“The Port of Rotterdam is working hard behind the scenes to take up the discussions between trade unions, employers and the Port Authority again as quickly as possible,” the port added.

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