Global And European Unions Vow To Fight Port Liberalisation

by Jim Wilson — last modified Sep 27, 2012 01:50 PM
Union officials affiliated to the European Transport Workers Federation and the International Transport Workers Federation have attempted to send a “strong signal” to the European Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union.
Throughout September, EC transport commissioner Siim Kallas has discussed his intent to liberalise port services by introducing laws to this effect.
Describing the current situation in European ports as “one major headache,” Mr Kallas has complained of low efficiency, bottlenecks, restrictive labour, non-competitive regimes, service monopolies, exclusive rights, ‘closed-door’ agreements for port services and potential conflicts of interest between ports as port authorities and as service providers.
In a speech on September 25 Mr Kallas also criticised labour issues for, in some cases, using restrictive practices that amount to, “in effect, ‘a closed shop’ where service providers may not employ personnel of their own choice”.
“These practices are restrictive, leading to monopolies and higher prices,” he asserted.
Docker-related industrial action is underway in Portugal which, unions say, has introduced proposals to relax employment regulations.
“Portugal can be considered as a laboratory for the European ports policy,” a union spokesman said.
“Several measures put forward by the Portuguese government correspond perfectly to the proposals that can be expected across Europe.
“We have seen this before ... we defeated it then and we will defeat it now”.
ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin said that this type of deregulation of standards and employment protection would not be countenanced by the world dockers’ movement.
“In a global industry, maintenance of standards and trade union rights is a global issue, not just a national or regional one,” he stated.


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