PORT STRIKES SPREAD ACROSS EUROPE
Coordinated strikes of dockworkers to protest against the proposed European liberalization of port services are spreading across Europe.
According to the European Transport Workers’ Federation, the ports of Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ostend, Limassol are Larnaca went on strike earlier today.
Labor actions and stoppages are also due today in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven.
Eduardo Chagas, an official at the European Transport Workers’ Federation, said further actions would take place next week in French, British, Danish, Maltese and other ports. Port workers in Spanish ports are also expected to stage protest actions.
The federation of transport workers’ unions said the actions “will send a new signal to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the member states of their rejection of the proposed directive on market access to the port services.”
The European Parliament is scheduled to start new discussions about the port directive in the next few days, following the adoption by the European council of transport ministers of a common position in June last year.
“In its present form, the directive is unacceptable and, if adopted, would cause social unrest which would last for a long time,” the transport workers’ federation warned. “It would degenerate the working conditions of port workers, threaten their employment, jeopardize their health and safety, slash their vocational training and weaken their skills.”
The European Commission said the proposed port liberalization measures would improve the quality of port services and lower their costs. Labor counters that they will make ports unsafe, and turn them into “ports of convenience.”
The port directive is supported by organizations representing shipowners and shippers, but broadly opposed by European ports.