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European dockers demonstrate against “self-handling”

European dockers demonstrate against “self-handling”

European dockers demonstrate against “self-handling”

   The European Transport Workers' Federation said on Thursday that its planned demonstration would go ahead today (Monday) in Rotterdam to protest against the liberalization of port services in Europe.

   The European port workers want the conciliation committee of the European Parliament and the council of ministers to refrain from allowing seafarers to handle cargo-handling operations on their ships, a practice known as “self-handling.”

   The European Transport Workers' Federation reiterated its concerns over self-handling, a regime of local authorizations for service providers, and pilotage. It is urging the conciliation committee to follow certain proposals made by the European Parliament that would water down and regulate the liberalization of port and cargo-handling services.

   Eduardo Chagas, spokesman for the European Transport Workers' Federation, said that the federation wants a system of local authorizations to regulate the access of shipowners to self-handling operations. “We are not completely against self-handling,” he said. Dockworkers’ unions already “live with” the fact that seafarers on some roll-on/roll-off vessels handle cargo-handling operations like lashing and driving, he added.

   Dockworkers’ unions in several European countries are planning various labor actions, “from distribution of leaflets to industrial actions,” the European Transport Workers' Federation said.

   Port workers from The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, Spain, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Romania, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Portugal will demonstrate today in Rotterdam. The union federation predicted that some 8,000 workers would take part in the rally.

   “Of particular significance is the participation of five delegates from (the) International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union, from the United States,” the European union federation said.

   The European Transport Workers' Federation is part of the International    Transport Workers' Federation, which supported the ILWU during last year’s tense labor negotiations on the U.S. West Coast.