Niek Stam speech op het ILWU congres in Hawaii

Brothers and sisters,


First of all I want to thank the ILWU for having me here. And Hawaii is assume. It is really hard to focus on my daily job because it's so beautiful here.

I'm standing here in front of you with a lot of union pride on behalf of my total membership. I'm proud to be part of an international family of longshore unions and very thankful for all the support in our pension fight.


We are building alliances to get justice and a fair share of capital for our members of the working class.
And justice is not always in the law. It is in the hands of union members and their leaders all over the world.
After one year of campaigning and negotiations, last week we concluded our new contract with the most automated terminal of the world. Rotterdam World Gateway. The terminal is not operational yet, but let me explain a few thing:
70 Remote Crane Operators in an office, nobody on docks. We got a fight about 'pushing the button' so the container starts to move under contract.


Speech Niek


Our pension fight was successful. It was about injustice, wrong doing by the insurance companies, called Optas and Aegon. We won because of international solidarity of dockers unions.
In 2008 we started an international campaign in Sydney during the National Conference of the Maritime Union of Australia, MUA. All the important longshore unions were there together.
We know all the famous words 'An injury to one, is an injury to all' or 'touch one, touch all'.
I can tell you that the ILWU, ILA, Teamsters and MUA didn't stop after saying those words. Together we filled the streets of San Francisco and Sydney with picket lines during the many shareholders meetings of Aegon in The Hague Netherlands.
We put a lot of pressure on our campaign targets, beginning in 2008. That pressure allowed us to reach a settlement with one of the target companies, Optas in 2010.
Optas paid back workers en pensioners 500 million euros that they took from us.
Next we went after our other target, the insurance company Aegon.
For a long time, Aegon refused to sit down with us. Then Aegon offered us a a couple of small settlements. We turned that down.
The international campaign with the ILWU, MUA, ILA and Teamsters kept rolling.
We showed up in San Francisco twice in front of the Trans American Pyramide Building that is 100% owned by Aegon.
We showed up at an important tennis tournament in Easborne UK where Aegon is the head sponsor of this tournament. We handed out 8000 tennis balls with our campaign logo PUT THE MONEY BACK.
I don't want to forget to mention the RMT and UNITE from England who helped to help us out during our campaign at the tennis tournament.


In 2012 during the National Maritime Union of Australia conference in Sydney, we adjourned the conference and marched to the Aegon office in the financial district.
Finally our concerns were taken seriously by Aegon's Board of Directors in the Netherlands.
The company re-opened the negotiations with us. They offered us 80 million euros cash. My message was clear. Fuck off. It's not enough!
So then our campaign entered the next phase. Our new weapon was advertisements on television and in movie theaters, where we could reach out to regular people.
Our goal was to reach beyond dockworkers and their families. All people. Young, middle age and old people. But all these people are customers or potential customers of Aegon.
We bought advertisements on national television around the soccer game that's just like youre Super bowl.
Now I want to show you our advertising weapon that helped bring Aegon to their knees.


Cinema trailer

A new round of negotiations with Aegon was scheduled to begin the evening before we were planning to sign the advertising contract.
We reached an agreement with Aegon in April 2014 and after a year of legal procedures to make it official.
The deal we won will be worth between € 188 million and 275 million euros.
Together with the € 500 million we won from Optas, we will have 688 million to 775 million. The membership voted with 94% in favour of the settlement.


So brothers and sisters, It took us 14 another 7 years of international campaigning to win. We did not give up and we did not give in. And now the victory is ours!


I will conclude mr President, by saying to you:
Without the help of the ILWU, MUA, ILA Teamsters and ITF we would not have been able to get this deal.
So I want to say thank you to Mr. President, executive board members in particular my friend Ray Familathy.
On behalf of my entire membership, the foundation SBPVH include the port employers I want to thank you, most deeply for your support.
In September this year we will organize a "We got the money back" party to celebrate the successful campaign with all key players. ILWU of course is invited to be part of this event.


We will invite all the participating unions to be with us.
And today a book will be launched in the Netherlands with the title "Pension Millions". This book includes a dvd with a documentary called: "Put the money back!"


It is an honor to hand over the first dvd of this documentary to the ILWU and MUA. Ray, Big Bob and Paddy, can you please come here to take the dvd.


Brothers and sisters please put your hands together for helping us to make this victory possible.


Thank you so much for your support, your time, your involvement and your solidarity. Thank you. Thank you.

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