18-month negotiation ends in job security for workers on Rotterdam dock

After a year and a half of negotiations dockers at the Port of Rotterdam, Netherlands, have secured job security until July 2020. The agreement with management was reached on Tuesday by members of the FNV negotiating team.



As well as a guarantee of jobs for all those dockers who were in permanent employment at the start of 2015 for the next four years, there is also a commitment to research the possibility of bringing lashing regulations in line with those of neighbouring countries as well as stipulations about using unionised labour to handle containers between the first and second Maavlakte terminals (number two is expected in 2018).

The FNV did add a note of caution. Niek Stam, secretary of the ports sector of FNV said: “Yes we’re celebrating this result but we’re very aware of all the time that’s been lost here and the very real risk that the competitive position of Rotterdam may have been weakened because of the length of this process.

That can’t happen again, we need to better prepare for the future. We are in favour of regular monitoring of developments and discussion between the union and management of problems that we can see coming over the horizon. That gives time for port operators and union, ultimately workers, to collaborate on the most appropriate measures to handle changes, whether that be automation, over capacity or the arrival of larger ships.”

“For the container sector in Rotterdam to stay strong we need to continue working together, with mutual trust. Consultations have been going on for years and finally employers and unions have been able to come to an agreement which they both find acceptable – we should keep that spirit alive as we move forward.”

ITF president and chair of the dockers’ section Paddy Crumlin added: “This is proof positive that perseverance, being tough and standing firm are absolute musts for transport workers and their unions. What they’ve done in Rotterdam is make the employer understand the power that the dockers have and demonstrated that employers can’t afford not to include them in decision making. That’s something we’re seeing from dockers’ unions around the world again and again.”

The terms of agreement will be reviewed in 2019. 

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