European Coordinators July, 21st 2022
We have learned from the information on your website that on 19 July at dawn the police, acting on behalf of the Piacenza Public Prosecutor’s Office, placed the national coordinator of SI Cobas, Aldo Milani, and three leaders of the union in Piacenza under house arrest: Mohamed Arafat, Carlo Pallavicini and Bruno Scagnelli.
The absurd charges are conspiracy, sabotage and disruption of public services. These charges relate to the strikes at the Piacenza logistics warehouses that took place between 2014 and 2021. The prosecution alleges that the strikers carried out these strikes with „extortionist intentions“ in order to obtain better conditions for the workers than those provided for in the national contract. Is a matter of course – that industrial action and strikes are used to achieve better pay and working conditions – now to be criminalised?
The suspicion is that the Italian state apparatus wants to send a reactionary signal of intimidation in the face of powerful workers‘ strikes, demonstrations and actions against the passing on of the burdens of the crisis and war in Italy in the past weeks and months. It is our deepest conviction that further, stronger protests of the workers against the course of the war, against the drastic passing on of the burdens of the crisis and ultimately against the corruption and contempt for humanity of the capitalist system will develop in more and more countries. This requires our organisation – and our closest international ties, cooperation and coordination.
International solidarity is the order of the day! The ECC has today informed all its affiliates about the outrageous events and called for active, rapid and coordinated solidarity. This means that public and appropriate protest and struggle actions, assemblies, solidarity greetings are being organised in many countries. We will keep you informed about this.
On behalf of the European Coordination of ICOR – International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organisations – we declare you our full solidarity. We demand the immediate release of the arrested comrades Aldo Milani, u Mohamed Arafat, Carlo Pallavicini and Bruno Scagnelli. or the lifting of the house arrest. Hands off the right to strike!
Jeroen Toussaint & Joachim Griesbaum
Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
German Dockers show strength
From De Volle Lading July 2022 (07/06/2022)
On Thursday June 9th, thousands of dockworkers went on strike in the North German ports. It was a warning strike during the evening and night shifts. The next morning there were negotiaions on the Collective labour agreement (CBA) for 12,000 workers in 58 port companies.
On Friday morning there was a demonstration in front of the hotel in Hamburg, where the collective bargaining took place.
On 23 June there was a 24-hour strike and all container cranes were up in Emden, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Brake, Wilhelmshaven and Hamburg. Approximately 8000 port workers went on strike and there was a demonstration again.
A militant mood
The trade union ver.di demands in a one-year collective labour agreement a wage increase of € 1.20 per hour plus price compensation and for whom has a job in the container sector a surcharge of € 1200 (for others € 500). The ZDS (port companies) offered 3.2 percent for 2022 and 2.8 percent for 2023 plus € 600 once.
That’s less than half of what is demanded and lies well below the inflation rate. Since 1978, there have been no major strikes anymore in the German port companies (apart from the actions against Port Package). But in recent years jobs constantly have been cut by automation and the working pressure has been further increased.
Dockworkers who do lashing and who work on the car boats have low wages. The port workers got fed up. In the weeks before the strikes they have refused 800 additional services at HHLA (the largest port company in Hamburg).
A striker said: „The companies are counting on the ever-growing quantity of work to be met by more and more overtime, instead of hiring new colleagues. We’re tired of always shifting a growing number of overtime hours in front of us.“
The major German transhipment companies such as HHLA and Eurogate and BLG are partly owned by the federal states of Hamburg and Bremen. This also gives every struggle a political aspect.
The dock workers are aware of their importance in the economy. The governments are aware of this as well. The degree of organization in the ports are large and the mood is militant. Because there is one CBA for all port companies, all dock workers can combine their strength. They do not allow themselves to be divided by workplace. Compare that to the nearly 50 CBA’s in the Netherlands.
Martial law against strikes
Rainer Dulger, president of the Central Association of German Seaport Operators (ZDS) demanded on June, 30th a ’national emergency‘ to prevent or knock down strikes.
That warning strikes could bring the German seaports to a complete stand still has made a deep impression.
“The good years are now over“, says Dulger. He attacks the entire working class, which precisely fights for the preservation of those working conditions – now that the Scholz government is giving priority to a war course and the costs are passed on to the ordinary people.
The workers and the unions will have to fight the proposals of the BDA and, on the contrary, demand unlimited and legal right to strike.
Solidarity – Support the German colleagues!
De Volle Lading sent on June, 9th the following message of solidarity:
To the fighting North German dockworkers
We are delighted to hear that you have held a warning strike for a wage increase of 12-14% on Thursday afternoon, June 9th. During the evening shift you stopped a lot of work in the docks. We of the group ‚De Volle Lading‘ (newspaper of colleagues for colleagues in the ports) in Rotterdam wish you good luck in the collective bargaining negotiations. It is good that you demonstrated during the negotiations this morning. And the bosses can no longer claim that they cannot pass on the higher wage costs to the shipping companies of which the containers are handled. Shipping companies have their freight rates pushed up so much in recent years that they make a major contribution to global price increases. Your work in fully continuous labor provides them with this profit, but it affects your health. The bosses should not whine about their profits. Shipping companies and port terminals are doing well. HHLA was able to increase its profit by 84.7% to € 228 million in comparison with the previous year. It is good that you are committed to one joint collective labour agreement. In Rotterdam there are about 50 various CBA’s in the port.
Do you also want to send a solidarity message, or a solidarity visit? Please contact De Volle Lading.
From De Volle Lading June 2022 (06/08/2022)
Ground staff Schiphol achieves success
At Schiphol Airport, the staff shortage leads to huge queues and flight cancellations. The wildcat strike by KLM baggage staff put extra pressure on to improve working conditions. Unions and Schiphol reached an agreement: the ground staff will receive a summer bonus of 5.25 euros per hour in June, July and August – in September a labour market supplement of 1.40 euro per hour will apply. This allowance will then end again in September next year. Together with some other measures, the Schiphol package will cost 40 to 50 million euro.
In this way, Schiphol hopes to retain staff and recruit additional personnel. For people who often earn around the minimum wage (ten to eleven euros an hour), these are not inconsiderable amounts. The personnel shortage throughout the Netherlands offers unprecedented opportunities to join the fight for better employment conditions.
Staff shortages? Go on the attack!
Companies in the port are also desperate for personnel. Shouldn’t this moment be used to reinstate permanent jobs? That would give young people some security at last.
- Every port job a permanent job!
Money is in the wrong pockets
At the same time, the example of Schiphol shows that capitalism cannot offer workers lasting security and progress. The summer bonus lasts exactly three months and a year later the labour market supplement will disappear as well. Of course Schiphol hopes that the labour market will be more plentiful again, so that the old, familiar, lawless hiring can be abused again.
Beginning of this year, Schiphol announced that it had a ‚war chest‘ of 1.2 billion euros at its disposal. Compared to that amount, the 40 to 50 million that Schiphol has now lost is almost nothing. The resources to provide people a steady job and an income without poverty – these resources are there, but they are just in the wrong pockets.
Port of Piraeus
Struggle brings solidarity
From De Volle Lading May 2022 (05/17/2022)
On Thursday morning April 28 a 37-year-old dock worker got seriously injured in the event of an accident in the port of Piraeus. The guardrails of a ship of the Chinese shipping company COSCO broke off and the man got life-threatening wounded after a fall from twelve meters. The colleagues of his shift immediately laid down the work and the emerging team also didn’t start to work. It happened on a container terminal that is also owned by COSCO.
That morning there was an earlier planned meeting of workers on piers II and III about the collective labour agreement with COSCO. It was also decided to lay down the work on May 1 and 2 The President of the trade union ENEDEP said at the meeting that the port would be shut down on May 6 if COSCO does not agree with the justified demands of the workers by then.
MAT and special forces can not break the unity
There was a call to all May 1 demonstrations to come to the port. On the 30th more and more people gathered in front of the gate because of solidarity. On the same day, COSCO forced 65 colleagues from Haidari (another workplace in Greece) in buses that brought them under police escort to the COSCO terminal in Piraeus. Shortly before the buses arrived MAT and special forces of the Coast guard encircled the striking workers and occupied the gate, in order to enable the buses full with strikebreakers of COSCO to drive through the gate.
Six months of struggle already
It is not the first time that the workers of COSCO started to fight against the powerful Chinese monopoly company. At the end of October last year they had a strike for days after the death of colleague Dimitri due to an industrial accident.
Therefore COSCO had to accept that a safety committee was created with representatives of the port workers, that the 12-hour shifts were abolished, that one may not be enrolled again eight hours after a service and that the gang number increased from four to five.
On 13 and 14 April the port workers went on strike for 24 hours because COSCO refuses to sign the agreements that were fought for. Courts declared this strike illegal, but now COSCO had to make a concession. The company offered a wage increase of three-euro per day. The workers rejected this and decided on a next 24-hour strike on April 20.
The port workers are an example for port workers in Greece and abroad – and also for other workers.
Forward to the demand of retirement at 60-years seems to be the right way to go – and
permanent and full-fledged jobs for young people!
- third largest shipping company,
- owner of important terminals,
- more than 47 billion profit
COSCO Shipping Lines is the third largest shipping company in the world, after Maersk and MSC. With the ‚competing‘ supermonopolies in the container shipping is the Chinese state shipping company able to drive up the transport prices of the containers unheard of. The shipping company COSCO could almost double its profit for 2021 compared to 2020 from 24.46 to 47.67 billion euros.
COSCO owns ships and COSCO Shipping Ports (CSP) owns or manages terminals. This gives the shipping company a priority position with the handling of their ships in those ports. In 2016, CSP purchased piers II and III, the container terminals of the port of Piraeus. In 2018, CSP purchased all shares of APM Terminals Zeebrugge. In 2016 CSP bought from Hutchison a 35 percent stake in the Euromax Terminal Rotterdam – one of the most modern automated terminals in the world. In 2019 followed a 35 percent stake in the Hamburg Container Terminal Tollerort from HHLA.
Stop all warmongers!
From De Volle Lading March, 16th 2022
Many are angry about the war in Ukraine. Imperialists struggle all over the world for spheres of influence. The struggle between the imperialist EU, the US and Russia has now led to a bloody war in Ukraine. Thousands dead, tens of thousands injured, millions of refugees and vast devastation.
It is Russia that has made the final move by invading Ukraine. Previously NATO had extended himself by twelve new Member States into the Russian border, surrounded Russia with 700 military bases and moved NATO soldiers to the Baltic countries and to Romania. This war is prepared by two sides.
- Immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and of NATO forces from the Russian borders!
Workers should not shoot at each other!
The U.S. has supplied weapons worth $300 millions. Volunteers from six NATO countries have joined the Ukrainian army. NATO’s military escalation exacerbates the situation in Ukraine and increases the danger of a third world war. In the Western media, only Russia is blamed as guilty and US imperialism, NATO and the EU are presented as peace-loving.
In line with this, certain opinion makers are pleading for a boycott of all Russian ships and goods. That’s choosing the side of NATO and the EU who want to weaken their imperialist enemy Russia. Working people should not choose between imperialist competitors.
It’s the working people who resist – such as the tens of thousands of protesters in Russia who take the risk of to be arrested. Both in Ukraine, as in Russia, as in Europe and the US, the workers must fight against the billionaires and oligarchs, with their yachts and palaces, who impoverish the people.
Zelensky’s reactionary regime was, ordered by oligarchs, clubbing down striking miners and limiting strongly democratic and trade union rights. It has turned the natural resource-rich Ukraine into a poorhouse. The interest of working people is that Zelensky and Putin disappear, that Rutte and Biden disappear – that capitalism is being replaced by socialism. The battle for spheres of influence – and therefore also wars – end when capitalism is overthrown.
Workers should not shoot at each other in the interests of billionaires and oligarchs, but fighting together to overthrow capitalism!
War budgets up?
The coalition agreement stipulated that ‚defence‘ would receive billions more. Now a majority in the house of representatives thinks that it is no longer enough. In all NATO countries, the war budgets are increased. The contradictions between the imperialist countries become sharper, the armament becomes forced up.
The cost of all this is passed on to the people who soon also must serve as cannon fodder. From the collecting action of giro 555 it appears that the ordinary people like to be willing to helping refugees. But there is no willingness to finance imperialist wars.
- We are not going to pay for their wars!
The Dutch role
The Netherlands is only a small country. The Dutch state joins the EU and NATO in order to take care of the imperialist interests of the large Dutch concerns.
The Netherlands participates in all important military interventions. In both Afghanistan, as Iraq, the Netherlands is responsible for dozens of deaths among the civilian population.
Since 2017, the Netherlands has been strengthening the NATO force with 250 soldiers in Lithuania, with two F-35 fighter jets in Bulgaria and also supplied two Cougar helicopters, other equipment and two specialized teams of the army.
After the Russian invasion followed 200 Stinger missiles, 50 anti-tank weapons with 400 missiles, 100 sniper rifles with ammunition and two detection robots for (sea) mines to Ukraine. Rutte openly says that there will be more military support given, but not all that is made public.
- Stop Dutch participation to imperialist wars and Interventions!
Hands off Ukraine, workers solidarity against an unjust war!
The Coordination Group of the International Dockworkers‘ Experience Exchange protests indignantly against the aggression and invasion of Ukraine by Putin and the Russian state. We also protest against the warmongering and war propaganda with dramatic armament of the USA/NATO and the European Union.
We stand with the Ukrainian people, the workers, the families. And we are with all our hearts with the dockers in Odessa and Mariupol. In Russia, as in Ukraine, workers‘ rights have been and continue to be trampled underfoot. Ukraine is a country rich in raw materials and agricultural fruits – yet it is one of the poorest countries in Europe! The courageous resistance of the people in Ukraine needs a perspective: workers‘ solidarity on both sides can force a ceasefire, can put an end to the war and unspeakable suffering and destruction. We are in solidarity with all colleagues who work in Europe or internationally for Russian forwarding companies, shipping companies or port companies and who no longer receive money because of the SWIFT blockade.
Dockers have shown significant solidarity against imperialist wars on several occasions. Examples are the boycotts in June 2021 in Oakland, May 2021 in Livorno but also on 1 May 2008 in San Francisco against the Iraq and Afghanistan war of the US government under George Bush. Dockworkers, seafarers, shipyard workers can become a significant force across national borders in the struggle for peace and against an impending world war. Let’s put a stop to all warmongers!
That means today: You’ll Never Walk Alone!
The Havenmonitor – Exploitation in the Picture
Every year, Erasmus University publishes the ‚ Havenmonitor’, the ‘Port Monitor‘. The figures of Havenmonitor 2021 expose social relations which remain usually hidden. The direct employment of the Dutch seaports in 2020 was 203,567 jobs. Together these workers established an added value of 27.2 billion euro. That is € 133.611,- per worker. If you consider only Rotterdam, then the added value is even 165.931,- euro per worker.
It’s even more crooked
Actually, it’s even more crooked. Above we talked about workers, but not every worker produces added value. There are plenty of jobs that can be omitted, which only exist because of the capitalist way of doing business: directors, HR managers, supervisors who do not useful work but do just watching and talking (punishing, making an assessment, pampering customers, you name it). The value that a real worker produces is therefore even greater, for he also has those idiots sitting on his back.
After a day, the wage is earned, the rest of the week you work for the capitalists.
The added value exists according to the port monitor from depreciation, rent and lease, taxes, wages and profit. Suppose that this worker in the Rotterdam port in average earns the modal salary (€36.500,-) , then after one working day, he has earned the value of his weekly wage and he works the rest of the week for the boss’s profit, for the old investments of the boss (depreciation) and for the rent and the lease that other capitalists bring in.
The worker pays for the investments and taxes
The port monitor creates a clear picture. The investments are therefore not paid from the pockets of the capitalist, but from the added value that the workers create. The tax which the capitalist has to pay also comes from that added value that the workers have brought about – and that tax (mainly corporation tax) is less and less, by the way. On the other hand, the tax that the worker has to pay becomes more and more: wage tax, VAT, excise duties, municipal taxes and so on. Of that little modal wage is less and less left over.
A society without exploiters
If we oversee the battlefield, then the workers after a small day have worked enough to produce their weekly wages. Afterwards they work for the non-workers in their own company, before tax (which to a large extent benefit the capitalists), for one’s own capitalist (profit and depreciation) and for other capitalists (rent and lease).
What kind of world is that?
Isn’t it high time for a society where there is no more place for eaters in the form of capitalists? As the workers can reap the benefits of their work then the world looks a lot better. This is possible if the means of production are brought in social ownership.
ADM two weeks on strike for the COLLECTIVE LABOUR AGREEMENT (CBA)
From De Volle Lading January, 27th 2022
Monday 27 December most the 55 colleagues of Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in Europoort laid down the work. No more seagoing vessels were unloaded, and no inland vessel loaded. In the adjacent factory the oil is pressed out of the soybeans supplied and the rest processed into animal feed.
This factory was also largely shut down two weeks for the most part, and that did cost the American food company an estimated two million a day. Nevertheless, the management continued to reject the collective labour agreement demands of FNV Havens.
The main requirements were 1.5% wage increase on top of the automatic price compensation of 2.59%.
And 1% of the wage bill for the build-up of a reserve that allows terminal workers to retire at the age of 65 – two years before their AOW (=legal pension).
Billions in profits
The American grain company Archer Daniels Midland achieved for the last financial year ended on 30 September 2021 an annual turnover of 80 billion dollar. Gross profit was $5.7 billion – an increase of 33.23% compared to the last year. So ADM doesn’t really need to care about a single percent. Just the increase in profits was nearly 1.5 billion. Here’s how it goes in capitalism: the profits for the shareholders are combined with the willingness to lose millions of euros at a subsidiary just to smoke out workers who are fighting their CBA.
ADM-ers do not think the company is a bad boss, but this tactic met with misunderstanding. The action had started with a two-hour strike and refusing to continue working during the break for a week – there is an extra payment at ADM for those who want to move their shift in case of crowds. Then the work was laid down. Of the 55 workers, some newcomers unfortunately did not participate in the strike and also some elderly people did not join the majority. This allowed the factory to continue operating at low capacity. In the end a ship was unloaded under the direction of a manager, so that the factory could run again.
After two weeks, on Monday 10 January there still has been voted on ADM’s final bid. That was only 0.5% wage increase on top of the price compensation, with a duration of the CBA of two years – or 0.7% for four years. The choice was made for two years. There will be a one-off payment of € 250 per year and the ability to hand in five time-for-time days as compensation for the strike days. Previously, ADM agreed on parental leave and with the improvement of the education.
Lessons for a positive trade union struggle
It is good that colleagues have entered into a struggle and maintained it for two weeks. It is also good that the strike has not been stopped from above, but that it was a decision at a meeting of the entire staff. At such a meeting you can really consult with each other
It is important in the coming time to consciously work on the internal unity of strikers and non-strikers. The newcomers and the elderly have the same interests as the rest of the staff. At the same time, the principle must hold that in strikes the minority resigns itself to the majority – strikes are done together, otherwise you let your strength erode.
A colleague thought they better could have done the action at the same time as EMO and EBS which also have to renew their CBA as well. Against a company that tries to smoke out strikers, it is extra important to ensure publicity, for example by a rallies or demonstrations – by informing colleagues at other companies, by organising solidarity messages from other companies, by hanging out banners at the gate, show yourself in Rotterdam and surroundings and so on.
Take the strike to a higher level, show up – then you will receive solidarity and then the company must rethink.
Also in Hamburg: job cuts through social schemes or working together for offensive demands
From De Volle Lading December 17th, 2021
On Saturday 11 December, 800 dockworkers gathered in front of the HHLA headquarters in Hamburg. There the two largest German port companies HHLA and Eurogate negotiated about a merger. Trade union ver.di fears the loss of hundreds of jobs.
In Hamburg, a thousand jobs are also threatened at the GHB – a labour pool comparable to the former SHB. Through automation many jobs have disappeared in the container sector. In recent years there have been several actions against the removal of jobs.
Hamburg dockworkers demand a future
The demonstration ran through Hamburg city centre. Present were delegations from Bremen, Bremerhaven, Emden and Wilhelmshaven. Also the ITF (International Transport Workers Federation) showed solidarity.
A combative representative of the large Airbus factory at Hamburg called for a joint demonstration by Airbus with the port, the shipyards and the Lufthansatechnik. Thousands of jobs have disappeared at these companies in recent years through social schemes. Through these agreements with the unions about voluntary departure with a redundancy scheme, the companies can get rid of their surplus staff in a cheap way and without struggle. Social schemes make colleagues defenseless. They must then ‚voluntarily‘ resign. That is why there is a lot of anger among colleagues.
A clear lesson for all companies that are further automated or reorganized – like APMT MVII. The conclusion is that clear demands must be made about job retention and for working shorter hours and retiring earlier.
2.4 kilometres of new quay in the Amaliahaven
From De Volle Lading 01-07-2021
Van Oord, HOCHTIEF and Ballast Nedam will construct 2.4 kilometres of quay and ensure a draught of 22 meters. RWG and APMT MVII will use the quays.
The Port Authority Rotterdam says the expansion is necessary to keep track of container throughput growth. If quays and sites are completed, 4.4 million TEU can be handled; an increase of almost 30% compared to the current container transhipment.
Costs of the project: 170 million euros. What a ordinary citizen or a small business owner would not dare to ask, is being arranged for the large monopoly companies as if it was the most normal plight of the world.
170 Million for the largest shipping companies and the largest terminal operators
APMT MVII is owned by Maersk, the largest container shipping company in the world and the fourth largest container terminal operator in the world. RWG is owned by a number of companies: first and foremost of DP World – the third largest operator of container terminals. Furthermore RWG is owned by Terminal Link – a collaboration of CMA CGM (the fourth container shipping company in the world) and the Chinese CMPH (the sixth operator of container terminals). Finally, Hyundai (the sixth container shipping company) also has a share in RWG.
Parasitizing on society
It is a tangle of large shipping companies and terminal operators. Each of them financially strong companies. That the Port Authority Rotterdam puts 170 million in the construction of 2.4 kilometres of quay for these companies, shows that these companies parasitize on society. The largest part of the value produced by the workers somehow disappears into their pockets. It’s good to think about this if the CBA needs to be renewed again.
International solidarity – dockworkers Livorno boycott ship with weapons
From De Volle Lading June, 2nd 2021
In the Italian city of Livorno on 14 May 2021, dockworkers refused to load a container ship – because it had weapons on board destined for Israel. This is MV Asiatic Island, a ship of the Israeli shipping company Zim. According to the union the weapons and explosives are intended to kill Palestinians. The refusal happened during the 11 days of bombing of the Gaza Strip, during which at least 232 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children. „The port of Livorno will not be complicit in the slaughter of the Palestinians“ is the statement of the union L‘ Unione Sindacale di Base (USB). The union also called for a demonstration in Livorno in solidarity with the Palestinian people. One of the demands was the immediate cessation of the bombing of Gaza and to stop the ‚expropriations‘ of houses of Palestinians who have lived under military occupation since 1967.
Dockworkers Durban boycott ship of ZIM
A few days after the action in Livorno, solidarity with the Palestinians is shown in the South African port city of Durban and protests against the bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip. The dockworkers and their union – the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union (SATAWU) – refuse to unload the cargo of the ship of the Israeli shipping company Zim.
On 21 May the South African ‚Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions‘ (BDS) with allies such as SATAWU organised a demonstration in Durban. One of their demands to the South African Government is that the state port company Transnet stops the transport of goods to and from the territories occupied by Israel. This growing international solidarity and the calls for sanctions against Israel are an important development for the Palestinians. It is wider and wider demanded that the root causes of the violence are being dealt with: the occupation, colonisation, blockade of Gaza, Israel’s apartheid regime and the return of the Palestinians, displaced in 1948 and 1967.
Spanish Union, IDC and ITF pronounce
The Spanish dockworkers’ union La Coordinadora also pronounce her solidarity with livorno’s dockworkers: „Our choice for life is determined and absolutely, therefore we repeat our rejection of the use of the ports as a starting point for a number of weapons, which on this moment can only be be used to make the conflict worse.” On 18 May the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) strongly condemned the massacre in Palestine and pronounced unconditional support for the Palestinian general strike on 18 May, to which was responded to en masse. The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) called Israel to stop the aggression against Palestinians.
RST colleagues achieve a draw for the time being
but they can do better!
from De Volle Lading April 2021, 2nd Part
A football coach introduced the term scoreboard journalism: reporters only look at the results of the match and not how the teams have played. The one who compares the Collective labour agreement at RST, which now is submitted to the members, with the Collective labour agreement of three years ago, would possibly think: a draw in 2018 and now again. But then you don’t look at how the teams have played.
2018: start intimidation and proposals for deterioration
In 2018, the workers of RST set an ultimatum because the management did not meet the union requirements. Workers of RST put the work down , but after 24 hours the action was stopped by intimidation of the board and by sowing division by a group acting with other „demands“. There followed three years of intimidation: for all sorts of wanted reasons, ten colleagues were fired, dismissed from their positions and put out of their round-the-clock job.
In 2021, management thought that the time had come – bolstered by the intimidation – to push through a series of adversities: the dismissal of 15 colleagues who by an automation project (TOS) would become superfluous, the freedom to rent people from companies that do not have concluded a collective labour agreement with FNV Havens, deleting the coffee break, cutting into the leave schemes, lower wages with illness and worse working conditions for new colleagues.
2021: Workers of RST push management on the defensive
The management had misjudged themselves there. The director and his terminal manager were extraordinary unpopular because of their politics of intimidation, but considering the proposed deteriorations for the colleagues of RST there was no other way but to take action. With patience and by small steps the colleagues were convinced and the actions were built up. At first almost all colleagues signed send a letter to the management in which the deteriorated rings were rejected. Subsequently, it was decided to regularly have lunch in the parking lot opposite the management offices. The group that was there for lunch grew slowly, conversations convinced more and more colleagues, the management started to get nervous. The RST employees supported the collective labour agreement requirements of FNV Havens, the most important of which were that a job security guarantee would be issued (also for the people who would become redundant by TOS), that in addition to the price compensation, wages would be increased by 2.5% per year and that an ‚ Stop Working Earlier‘ (ESMW) scheme would be agreed in accordance with the FNV Havens model.
Blockade, strike and overtime boycott
Negotiations took place for the fifth time on March 23. Colleagues from different shifts gathered at the terminal to await the outcome. Because the management did not want to give in at almost any point, the afternoon shift decided not to go to work and, together with the other colleagues, to block the entrance to the terminal. After the negotiations had ended and it was agreed that the RST management would make a final offer, the evening shift started at 8 p.m. An overtime boycott was organized to keep the pressure on the kettle.
At the members‘ meetings of FNV Havens it was decided to agree to a one-year collective labour agreement – on the condition that, in addition to the price compensation, there would be a wage increase, that a social plan would be negotiated between FNV Havens and RST about the people who would become redundant due to TOS and that concrete commitments would be made about an ESMW scheme, included in the Collective Labour Agreement that will take effect on January 1, 2022.
Management withdraws deteriorations, union demands not met
The management stated that it was not prepared to increase wages in addition to the price compensation, but the management is prepared to conclude a social plan with FNV Havens for colleagues who will be made redundant by TOS and is prepared to include an ESMW scheme in the CLA that will take effect on 1 January 2022. If we look at the immediate results, then it is an even game: all deteriorations have been cancelled, but the union demands have not been met either. No wage increase in addition to the price compensation and the social plan and the ESMW scheme must be renegotiated. We do not know what these new negotiations will yield.
The real union work from the shop floor has been put on the map
If we look at how the teams played, there is one big difference with 2018. The game of the RST workers certainly had well deserved a victory. A group of active RST workers have successfully worked to convince colleagues of the need for action. Moreover, the management – the old ones, of course, but also the new ones – has lost much of its shine. Many colleagues no longer believe the talk about the red numbers. The understanding that the interests of the management and the shareholders oppose the interests of the workers and that nothing can be achieved without a struggle is widespread. The militant union work from the workplace has gained ground.
Better prepared for the next stage
It is now a matter of taking advantage of this progress in what is to come. Firstly, this agreement will be submitted to members in a referendum. The battle has not yet been fought: what should be settled for in the current situation – or not.
In any case, whether or not the agreement in principle is accepted, the negotiations on the social plan and on the ESMW system will become new battlegroes. Postponement is not an adjustment. Then it’s about turning the better game into a victory. Without shareholders and management, everything can just go on – they represent a useless class – but without dockworkers, no container will be moved. That knowledge and the militant union work from the workplace are the foundation for the struggle and successes in the future..
RST-ers are taking a step forward.
From De Volle Lading April 2021
At RST, in the previous collective bargaining negotiations (three years ago) there was a one day strike for the first time in 22 years. The collective bargaining agreement demands were not achieved because of intimidation and divide and rule by the management. Now the collective bargaining agreement is being renegotiated. RST has now been sold in principle to American and Danish investors by its parent Handelsveem-Steinweg. They only buy something if they expect a lot of profit, but the management continues to insist during the negotiations that there is a loss.
Continuation of intimidation
Under Pesselse’s rule, many port workers have been severely punished in the past year for violating a rule or for an accident at the terminal. A business damage is counted as a personal error. Taking away functions and overtime and putting them out of full continuous service sometimes costs the punished colleague half of his income. Many workers are angry about these severe punishments. They feel intimidated and that is the very intention. In the last and the most severely punished worker, RST also went too far according to a judge. He ruled that RST had to put the punished colleague again in his own position and in full continuous service and the corresponding salary had to be paid retroactively.
Management punished a colleague for a mistake with relegation and lowering the wage to that of a day job, but placed him on the evening shift and the colleague agreed to that. After a year, they discovered their mistake and put him on the day shift. He liked that too, but demanded a year’s evening shift supplement …. managements are less keen on their own mistakes.
CBA battle prepared
With the collective bargaining negotiations ahead, there was more discussion about this oppression and the view grew that actions are necessary, but that they must be built up slowly by first forming unity and mutual trust. For example, 184 signatures were collected under a letter of protest to the management. Then, as a form of protest during the lunch break, colleagues went out together in front of the office where the management sits and ate their bread there. That started with about twenty men and after a few times grew to 40 to 50 men. In the end, the whole crew was there. In the discussions, the aversion to the collective bargaining agreement deteriorations proposed by RST grew. This has built the trust that further action is possible. The Volle Lading Group made a Volle Lading Extra. It was distributed digitally in the port. It is well received by the RST-workers, especially via WhatsApp groups. He amplified the discussion. In capitalism, better working conditions can only be achieved through struggle, because they are at the expense of profit.
The work laid down, the gate is blocked
In the fifth round of negotiations on 23 March, the evening shift did not begin to work. From other teams colleagues came to the action. They blocked the entrance and exit of the City Terminal along the Eemhaven on which RST is located. Soon traffic jams began to form behind the nearby exits of the A15 highway. This increased the attention in the local media for the fight.
The evening shift went back to work. after a strike during six hours. The management should make a final offer by 29 March, but that was a day later due to consultation with the new owners.
FNV Havens demands 2.5% on 1 January 2021 and on 1 January 2022, a job security guarantee, extension of the Seniors Fit Scheme, filling of a heavy work fund to be able to stop earlier and as regards automation: recording the position of the Remote Operator and setting appointments in order to prevent negative consequences of automation for the workers.
RST imposed on 30 March – after consultation with the new owners – a final offer down. RST refuses an pay rise on top of inflation compensation. Furthermore, she gives an employment guarantee which is worth nothing, because she wants keep hands free to use ongoing automation to fire 15 people. Stopping to work at a lower age is made dependent on cooperation of the government. The management maintains that the coffee break should be cancelled, for newcomers worse working conditions should apply and hiring from companies that do not have collective labour agreements with FNV Havens should be possible.
Nothing progress yet?
The gains are that the colleagues are not afraid anymore now that they have felt their power during the strike and the blockade action. In the coming members‘ meeting, they can vote for an ultimate to fight for their demands. The „dare“ investors in RST will have to learn their first lesson.
Oh yes, some colleagues told us they were happy that Pesselse would leave when the new owners are at the helm. They asked us to announce in the Volle Lading that they would like to see that the terminal manager then also leaves. Hereby.
Colleagues ECT give clearly warning shot
From De Volle Lading
On December 8 was the first negotiation of the new ECT collective agreement. The unions have submitted an ambitious set of demands with the following main lines:
• Increase monthly wages by 75 euro in 2021 and also in 2022
For the elderly:
o Possibility to stop earlier work, with a good arrangement
o Expansion of dealt-with-care measures
o Maintain 90% days (=extra free days, at 90% of the salary)
For young people (and less young people):
o Extra allowance pay for V-roster from 30% to 35%
o Undo the salary cut of 2000
Of course, the ECT management does not want this. The management has been employed to serve the interests of the shareholder (Hutchison). On December 14, FNV published a pamphlet with
the headline: „ECT proposals will lead to a confrontation. That confrontation we should not and we cannot side-step.“ That is correct and that applies to the union demands as well: precisely they will not be realised without a confrontation.
The only correct answer: not backing down but action
The management immediately wanted to hand out a moral tap and reported to the unions that because of corona, the planned rounds of negotiations would not go ahead. The colleagues of ECT did the only correct thing: not receding, but action. On Friday and Saturday the terminals were shut down. ECT workers did not want to start working without the explanation of the management in the canteens. The management refused to come to the canteens. ECT workers then shifted from Sunday on to a slow action – with the demand that the two strike days would be paid. After a meeting on Monday December 21 in front of the gate was decided to include the demand of the repayment of the two strike days as a demand in the CBA negotiations and to resume the work in the ordinary way.
A boost was that a large delegation of colleagues from APMTR was present in solidarity. The other boost was that the management climbed down and resumed negotiations. If ECT’s colleagues stick to this line and be prepared to enforce their demands with action, then much can be achieved!
Hamburg colleagues take up the fight
From De Volle Lading
At Altenwerder and the Burchardkai (two container terminals of the
Hamburg port company HHLA) 106 maintenance technicians from the technical service have been on strike three times. First in November,
then on the two weekends of December 5/6 and 12/13. That
106 technical service workers want the same employment conditions as their colleagues on other terminals. It’s not so much about wages, but about business like the abolition of compulsory weekend work and preservation of jobs.
The two largest transhipment companies in Hamburg (HHLA and Eurogate) have plans to force up exploitation by increasing labour productivity. There are 500 jobs at stake.
The management of HHLA wants to reduce costs at the Burchardkai through automation by € 50 million per year until 2025, compared to 2019. Eurogate aims to save a total of € 84 million by 2024, of which € 38 million at the terminal in Hamburg. Eurogate also wants to reduce breaks and the duration of the relief of the shifts there. And working hours must be more adapted to the arrivals of the ships. So more flexibility and more weekend work. Divide and conquer is used to weaken resistance. For example, it is said that the cranes in Hamburg only make 20-25 moves per hour against 30-32 in Antwerp.
Competition and profit come at the expense of the workers
From 2010, the major port cities from Hamburg to Le Havre have deepened, expanded and automated their container ports in their pursuit of maximum profit in fierce mutual competition. See Maasvlakte 2. Now due to the global economic crisis the throughput has decreased, the port companies want to shift the crisis costs on to port workers. This is clearly noticeable in the CBA consultations, also in Rotterdam.
The colleagues in Hamburg provide the right answer with their strikes. They also wanted to demonstrate with about a thousand people in Hamburg on Saturday 19 December, but the demo is canceled due Covid-19. The battle is not over.
From De Volle Lading
Nasty game with dock workers in Bremen
In Bremen and Bremerhaven 1300 dock workers are employed by the Gesamthafenbetriebsverein (GHBV), a labour pool from which they are „lent“ to cargo-handling companies. In October the colleagues were told that they had to give up considerably, because there were suffered great losses because of the corona epidemic. Both the hiring port companies and the city council of Bremen, owning more than half of the GHBV and liable for part of the costs of the idle time, put heavy pressure on the dock workers.
The dock workers finally gave in on a number of issues. but bosses and alderman thought that was not enough. In mid-November, they filed for bankruptcy for the GHBV, although there is a whisper that port companies have a debt of € 20 million to the pool. After a bankruptcy, the port companies and the city council are no longer bound by the employment contracts and the CBA of the dock workers – and that’s how they wanted it.
In some other German port cities, temporary workers are already employed, under poorer working conditions. For them the issue is not only to pass the losses of the corona crisis on to the dock workers. The port companies also have big and expensive automation plans and the costs of them they want to recoup on the colleagues, and then fire many of them as redundant. Some union officials want them to give into the bargain.
But the colleagues in Bremen do not just accept it. A good ten years ago, there was a similar attack with mass layoffs and wage cuts. They then have organized themselves from the bottom up in „Wir sind die GHB“. Lots of firings and handing in have been prevented by strikes, blockades and other actions. Who fights deserves solidarity.
from De Volle Lading August 2020
Corona – blows for flex workers in the port, shareholders helped
The port of Rotterdam has been hit hard by Corona. Container transhipment fell by 3.3% in the first half year. Dry bulk fell by 14%.
Especially iron ore and scrap (together minus 22%) and coal (minus 34%) were handled less. Breakbulk (general cargo) decreased by 11% and RoRo by 12%.
These half-year figures hide the larger decline in the second quarter, because in the first quarter there was hardly any influence of corona on throughput in these sectors – with the exception of the RoRo sector, where throughput already decreased by 7.3% in the first quarter.
Only the profits are saved
The blows hit the one harder than the other. If you have a temporary job, the contract will not be extended. If you are a temporary worker, you will no longer be posted. And if you are an on-call worker, you will no longer be called up. With a self-evident characteristic that is inherent to capitalists, a lower turnover is shifted to the flexible shell. We’ve all gotten used to it, and not many words are wasted on it anymore.
It is very different when the profits of the companies are affected by lower turnover. As quietly as the profits have been collected for years, so loudly there are calls for help to pass the losses on to the taxpayers.
In no time a NOW (Emergency Bridging Measure for Employment) was set up. Supposedly to save jobs, but the companies that receive millions from NOW are throwing both flex workers and workers with a permanent job out on the street. It is clear that it is all about one thing: the profits of the big companies.
RoRo: over 5.5 million
Not the unemployed are helped, not the jobs are saved: only the profits are saved. Many port companies have received a large advance on the NOW payment for March to June.
The RoRo sector, in particular, has made a lot of money. Sometimes it is a bit of a puzzle because various subsidiaries of a single concern make use of the pot, but Stena collected more than 2 million euros, P&O more than 1.5 million, C.RO more than 1.1 million and DFDS more than one million.
EECV received an advance of 1.1 million euros. We missed the bulk companies EMO and EBS on the list. RWG is the only container company we encountered: over 1 million.
ECT and APMT do not appear to have relied on NOW for March through June. Perhaps because the downturn in the container sector is less severe. Some colleagues say these companies would not want to put their figures on the table.
It may also be that they could largely pass the downturn to flex workers. The container companies then pass the costs on to Matrans and ILS and these two then pass the costs on to Transcore. Transcore collected almost half a million euros, so it seems that way.
This means that Vervat is supported as the owner of Transcore, while a large part of the on-call workers have nothing to eat. In capitalism, the capitalists are supported, the workers pay with unemployment and taxes.
Permanent jobs, solidarity: anti-capitalism
If you oversee the battlefield, it becomes clear again that flexible jobs must be abolished:
Every harbour job a permanent job!
The abolition of flexible jobs can be brought about by the struggle of the flex workers and the solidarity of colleagues with a permanent job. For real lasting progress, capitalism itself will have to be abolished.
Dock workers in Peru fight for protection against corona
From „De Volle Lading“
Dock workers at the APM terminal in Callao have succeeded with reaching an adequate agreement for protection against the corona virus. Peru has been hit hard by the pandemic. In the country, up to mid-June, 200,000 people have been tested positive and at least 6,000 died.
At the terminal, colleagues had to do the work with the same protective equipment for days and there were insufficient resources to wash well and to clean the work material. The dock workers perceived that five colleagues died from the virus in a short time, while 35 others tested positive and were afraid to take the infection home.
Their union SUTRAMPORC, with the support of the International Transport Workers‘ Federation ITF , went into negotiation with the APM management and ensured that every dock worker should now be given sufficient protective equipment and be tested for the virus three times a week.
Agreements have also been made about cleaning the material. Dock workers who are sick or frail receive a benefit of $ 163 a week from the company.
Dockworkers US strike against racism
From „De Volle Lading“
On Friday, June 19, dockers in all 29 ports on the West Coast of America were on strike for eight hours. Their union (ILWU) had called for this, to make it clear that they are an explanatory opponent of racism. Racism is a means of dividing the working class. Shortly after the murder of black worker George Floyd by a police officer , they had already laid down work for eight minutes and 46 seconds – the time during which the police officer closed Floyd’s throat. On June 19, 1865 (two years after the federal abolition of slavery) slaves in Texas were also given their freedom. That is why June 19 is the commemoration day for the abolition of slavery in the US – such as in the Netherlands and Suriname Keti Koti on July 1.
ILWU dock workers have a tradition of progressive solidarity actions. For example, they boycotted South African ships during the apartheid regime and now support the struggle of the Palestinian people.
Paddy Crumlin (ITF): ‘New normal puts working class in the first place‘
From „De Volle Lading“
Paddy Crumlin (president of ITF – the International Transport Workers Federation) did spread a special May 1 message about corona, May 1 and a new normal that puts the working class in the first place.
Below some pieces from there:
‘This crisis, caused by the Covid-19-pandemic, has shown the world what we always knew, that transport workers keep the world moving. … We must translate this into power.
Leaders across the world are talking about getting back to ‘normal’.
But we trade unionists we know that a return to ‘normal’ isn’t good enough.
The workers who today are ensuring that hospital staff can get to work, the sick can get the medicine they need, and that supermarket shelves are stocked with food, are also the same workers who for years have been fighting against declining wages – often poverty wages, increased outsourcing, social dumping, insecure models of employment and worsening working conditions and protections.
We’ve seen the criminality of ‘normal’ during this crisis – hundreds of thousands of workers laid off without work or pay overnight, and millions compelled to work without adequate protections leading to the death of thousands of workers on the frontline.
The system is broken, and we must campaign collectively to change it.
We must pause today to take pride in what we do, celebrate our values, demonstrate meaningful solidarity across borders, and collectively commit to each other to campaign, organise and fight for a new normal that puts the working class first.’
Before, during and after the corona crisis: „Together“ does not exist
From „De Volle Lading“
The most commonly used word in the corona crisis is „together“. Rutte took the lead during announcing the measures: „We have to do it together.“ And after that it was parroted (and sung) by TV celebrities and commentators in all sorts of variants.
Too few IC beds and too few IC staff
Maybe good to recall that there was no „together“ at all when the Intensive Care Beds were cut away because of austerity. When wages of the nurses and others care workers were cut, there was no „together“ either. When the hospital staff went on strike for more wages and less workload the government was not at home. Where would the shortage of IC nurses come from?
The pub close, but the production work must go on
Stop working neither happens together. Restaurants, cafes and theatres are close. But almost all production companies keep going. And while the police are inspecting sharply in the parks and on the streets – and drones fly above the beaches – none agent has been spotted checking a factory.
Nursing homes locked, but the staff works unprotected
Together? Family and acquaintances are no longer allowed to enter nursing and care homes: a measure to protect frail elderly and sick.
The RIVM guidelines leave the nurses and caregivers work unprotected. The same applies to home care. So long they don’t have a fever and they are not coughing a distance of a meter and a half is enough and mouth masks are not necessary.
But the virus is likely infectious even in mild conditions. How do you take care of people who need help at a distance of one meter and a half away? Nurses and caregivers therefore have to continue working – with the risk of infecting an entire home of clientele or get sick yourself. It happened in Sommelsdijk, it happened in Heerde, which home follows?
Billions – not for the workers, though the big companies
And who do those billions go to in support? Especially to the big companies with a lot of staff: never too bad for a grip from the coffers of the tax office.
The billions are not going to the flex workers who are made redundant.
Hardly to the middle class and the freelancers who can receive social assistance benefits if nothing more is earned – with 4000 euros for three months as compensation. With that you can’t pay the rent and redeem the loans.
Interest rates are artificially kept low by the ECB, by buying government and corporate loans for hundreds of billions.
To keep the banks out of harm’s way the state guarantees for a great deal of the money that they have lent to business.
When it concerns the big companies and the banks go there is plenty of money. When there were cutbacks, the richer became richer and the poor poorer. Once there is money issued by the billions, once again the rich get richer and the poor poorer.
Prepare for the time after corona
It is good to be prepared for the after corona era. You can count on the large companies, banks and the government that they are also preparing well. We probably then have to shoulder „together“ to clean up the damage of the coronavirus. And „together“ will again be a meaningless phrase.
If the corona crisis teaches something, then it is that between the government, the big companies and the rest of the population there does not exist „together“.
Well, we live together in the same country, but they benefit of our work and they have interests whole other than we have.
Everything they do is at a cost from us.
Capitalism does not protect our wages, our jobs, our youth and our health. Away with it!
Let’s make sure Rutte is right in one thing: that the world after corona will be whole different.
Learning from experiences at Uniport
Fight for preservation of all jobs
From De Volle Lading, Issue March 2020
Ten years ago, people were fired because of the bankruptcy of the SHB and later because of the reorganization of RPS. Hundreds of colleagues disappeared in that way into the WW (=Unemployment Insurance Act). Now, at Uniport, the same thing threatens to happen. The struggle against the redundancies were discontinued before it really got started. Hundreds of colleagues are threatening to end up into the WW. An extra burden because still people are being engaged (for lower wages and temporary contracts). Some say: there is no other way, we are divided, we let everything come up about us.
Power of port workers in reality stronger now
Why should redundancies not be able to be stopped? There are fewer dockworkers – but that means that a smaller group sets a much larger capital in motion: their power has therefore only become stronger. The power has also become stronger because the importance of the port for the rest of the economy has increased.
An advantage of the current time is: via social media information can be disseminated much faster than before. The vast majority of the portworkers are members of an union: that cannot be the cause.
Why is the power that port workers have not been used to prevent layoffs?
Formulate clear demands: shortening working hours and reassignment
There are also clear demands to formulate in order to prevent redundancies: shortening of working hours on the costs of the boss as a means of preserving jobs during periods of automation.
A specific demand was also: getting the colleagues from Uniport at Steinweg, at companies who take over lines from Uniport, at companies who will be located at the current area of Uniport, at each port company that has a vacancy. That demand has indeed been set – but a struggle is necessary to achieve more than what companies are prepared to allow.
The demand „Higher compensation“ was the first step towards accepting layoffs
If the power of the dock workers has not changed and if clear demands can be formulated – what is the point? Then the very reason is that the fight for those demands has not actually been organized.
Uniport colleagues were told that it was sufficient to demand higher severance pay. If the fight is limited to that, layoffs are in fact accepted already.
This does not reflect the interests of Uniport’s colleagues and neither of the rest of the dockworkers. Accepting layoffs at Uniport opens the door to accept layoffs at other companies. Holding up layoffs at Uniport puts open another door: to hold up layoffs at other companies.
Together you are a member of the union in order to campaign for joint interests
Action for shortening of working time and reassignment was and is certainly possible. Starting with colleagues from Uniport, but certainly also by colleagues from other port companies. Uniport colleagues demonstrated and blocked. They were willing to resist. „We are Rotterdam Dockers, we take care of each other“ is a slogan that expresses a willingness to work together.
175 Dockworkers came to drink coffee in solidarity at Uniport – which also expresses willingness to solidarity.
In this kind of situation, it is decisive to proceed further than a symbolic act. If no clear demands are made and the action will not be put at a higher level, than all willingness dies in good mood. You are ultimately a member of the union in order to make a stand with your colleagues for joint interests: then waiting is not the right step. Grabbing the initiative and not letting go anymore – that is necessary.
Lessons can be worth gold
dismissal is one too many. But if lessons are drawn, it is not for
If the straddle carriers at APMTR are automated, if the coal flow decreases at EMO, if RST also turns out to be an obsolete terminal, if transhipment falls because of corona, if maximizing profits threaten again jobs – then those lessons can be gold worth!
Full Solidarity with Dockers of Lisbon – You´ll Never Walk Alone
From Coordinating Group International Dockers Exchange of Experience Conference,
Hamburg/Rotterdam, March 13th, 2020
Your steadfastness and fighting power deserve our greatest appreciation. How can a government call itself social or socialist that treats workers so badly? This government has lost all rights to call itself social, who in the service of the port bosses demands 250 colleagues to get by without a wage for more than a year. You are perfectly justified in defending yourself and using the strike as a sharp weapon.
A-ETPL’s fraudulent bankruptcy is a first-rate scandal. In particular, in view of the fact that the government is violating its own agreement of May 27th, 2016 with your union SEAL, in which it tries to undermine the united fighting power of the Lisbon colleagues with the employment offer to 30 colleagues at Porlis, a company of the Yilport group . This is rightly met with outrage from colleagues. Split and conquer – that’s how the bosses would like it. Stay tough and steadfast!
In Germany, the port operators are trying similar methods. In 2018, around 200 jobs at BUSS in Hamburg were destroyed by the active policies of the SPD / Greens Senate. The stevedore company „Stauerei Tiedemann“ and its 100% subsidiary LCH (Laschkompagnie Hamburg) went bankrupt under unsettled circumstances. The GHB in Bremen was liquidated at almost the same time. The colleagues from Rotterdam report something similar.
They want to shift the burdens of the current global economic and financial crisis onto the workers. It is therefore all the more important that we join forces across national borders against these methods, which intend to deprive dockers of all won rights.
When we visited SEAL in March 2019, we had already assured your union that we, as a coordination group, would like to continue to work to ensure that the struggles of dock workers in southern Europe are also made known in the large ports in Germany, the Netherlands, and the northrange up to St. Petersburg . We also want to develop practical solidarity and will report on your struggle via our website www.dockers-international.org. We will address the dock workers in the ports where we work, as far as we can.
Workers of APMTR (APMT Rotterdam) want to fill up vacancies at APMT MVII (APMT Maasvlakte II)
From „De Volle Lading“ Issue Feb. 2020
One hundred and twenty colleagues from APMTR are driving on January 14 with one nail’s walk on the N15 on the Maasvlakte to the sister company APMT MVII and block the gate there for two and one half an hour. Because the emerging team joined the strike, the group of port workers in front of the gate grew to 200. A dozen APMT MVII colleagues also joined and inside it arrived also work to a halt. The police had to stream the trucks redirect to a parking lot.
Other action, more options
The colleagues of APMTR are known for their go slow actions, with which good results have been achieved. Now it appears that downing tools offers more possibilities. By downing tools you can manifest yourself outside the terminal. You can collectively make contact with other colleagues. You are seen by the outside world: in this case the trucks stopped and traffic on the N15 noticed that dockers were protesting.
If a strike is used to go outside, then more people get involved, more people are made to think and that increases the pressure on the management.
Management stays ignorant, pressure remains necessary
The parent company APMT in The Hague sells APMTR in mid-2020 to Hutchison, the owner of neighbor ECT. However it does apply a work guarantee of four years, but through automation and because of overlap in the offices, jobs are disappearing. Next year sixteen automated straddle carriers are put into operation, who threaten the jobs from around a third of the 200 drivers.
The parent company APMT starts to extend the new company APMT MVII right with phase two and then the colleagues could easily transfer from the old to the new terminal – because the terminals have the same owner. This way they nicely can keep their job in the port, with all their rights such as salary and pension.
The management of APMT MVII is not very keen on this and tries to let the Work Council work in their interests. According to the Collective Labor Agreement, APMT MVII can pay to outside staff a wage of approximately 10,000 euros lower. We live in capitalism where everything revolves around profit. That is why the parent company APMT in The Hague will not simply give this advantage away.
But that is not the main point. When personnel start to flow again from APMTR to APMT MVII, another mountain of combat experience flows from APMTR to APMT MVII. That bothers the management the most.
During the gate blockade, the management of APMT MVII came to attention of concessions. It is therefore important to continue to put pressure. FNV Havens will again discuss the issue with the management of APMTR and APMR MVII on 20 February.
Uniport – increase the pressure
After the powerful demonstration of Uniporters on December 13, it has quieted a bit. On January 13, a demonstration was held at UWV (Institute for Employee Social Security). UWV could report that no dismissal applications had been submitted by employer Steinweg.
Standstill is decline
Standstill in the battle against dismissals means mostly decline. Standstill means that pessimism can get the upper hand: the management is sitting back and relax, the colleagues are a bundle of nerves. Boats don’t come anymore and occasionally a container is being delivered – so, there is enough time to take the matters into one’s own hands again.
„No comment“ is a bit strange
Taking the matters into one’s own hands again can be done in many ways. The demonstration at the UWV is an act that resulted instantly publicity again. And instantly Steinweg had nothing to say for oneself again, because as always he had only one message: „no comment.“ In the beginning Steinweg stated that he would take responsibility for the personnel, but thereafter wanted to dump half of them into the unemployment law. In that case „No comment“ is a bit strange.
A proposal to
further increase the pressure could be talking to the colleagues from
the other port companies. That can be done during changing shifts at
the gate, then the traffic is usually at a standstill for a while.
But it can be done during the lunch break in the canteen, then a real
discussion is possible.
The real issue is: do we allow the management directors to dismiss colleagues, company for company. or are we making it together impossible for them. In unity much is possible, separately you are for it. Working together does not happen automatically: it requires discussion, information and think.
Colleagues APMTR won the first battle
From „De Volle Lading“ December 2019
It has been hatched at APMTR for months. At Maasvlakte 2, APM had a fully automatic terminal built: „APMT MV2“. The management announced to have in mind several scenarios for (the old) APMTR. Closure, automation, withdrawal into APMT MV2 and sale to another container giant. The job losses would vary between the 200s and 600s. All options were like coming out of the frying pan into the fire.
No wonder something was cooking. How can we care to make sure that everyone can continue to make a living. Should we wait which proposals the management will bring? Should the fight be prepared, what demands should be made? Is it too late, or is it too early to take action? In the middle of the opinion-making process it appeared that the management had already made a decision: negotiations were underway about the sale of the terminal to ECT, the largest container company in Rotterdam.
Demands and action
The works council presented a number of demands. From the point of view of the interests of the harbor workers were the main demands: existing agreements continue to apply, guarantee that during four years there would be no firings, guarantee that in the coming five years Maersk would load and unload the same number of containers at the terminal.
Workers‘ demands are never granted by itself. On Monday 4 November, a core of active trade unionists started to promote a go slow action. That was quickly taken over by all the shifts. And slow was really slow: about one-third to a quarter of the normal production. Thursday, the management came down a peg or two and stated to accept the demands as they are in the negotiations with ECT. After this had been explained to all the shifts, the go slow action was ended on Saturday.
Young people take a step forward
There is a lot of skepticism in the port about the youngsters: they would rather bother about their smartphones than about their working conditions and they would no longer want to become union members. At APMTR, half of the staff is younger than 30 years. For the majority of these young people, this was the baptism of fire, when it comes to collective struggle for common interests – and they endured it gloriously. They actively joined the actions, the discussions and the organisation.
In the meantime almost all of them have become members of the union, some executives. In these actions it turned out that they were not members because they hoped that union administrators would achieve something for them – no, they were members in order to organize action themselves together with the other union members. That is the only good reason to become a member. That is the first step in order to make the trade union into a combat organization.
In every struggle of quite some size the youth is the most active element, the youth is most willing to make sacrifices for a just cause.
Shortening working time in order to defend jobs
The fight has not been fought, not at all. Especially not from the youth’s point of view. It has been the case for years that the port is getting ever worse for young people. There are fewer and fewer jobs, the jobs are less and less fixed, the rewards are becoming more unequal, the working hours are becoming more flexible. On the other hand the transshipment figures and profits are rising. If at APMTR the choice remains limited to the deletion of 600 or 200 jobs, the port will once again be a bit worse for the youth. Then again jobs with which the future can be built are lost.
Why not focus on progress instead of accepting new decline? Fight for working time reduction by replacing the five shifts schedule by six shifts, by retiring the older ones earlier and thus create workplaces for young people. That preserves jobs and makes work easier. This way, rising productivity benefits those who produce: the workers. That goes at the expense of capital, and at the expense of the shareholders of Maersk, who, right without having to do any productive job, want to enrich themselves by letting others work for them. If you fight together for progress, then everything can be solved – keeping what you have is not enough.
Port of Rotterdam Authority and port companies must keep promises about the internal lane
from De Volle Lading, November 2019
On 15 and 17 October port workers took action in Front of the office tower of Port of Rotterdam Authority. They protested against the plans of the Port Authority and the port companies to fully automate the „Container Exchange Route“. This is an internal lane for container transport from one terminal to another on Maasvlakte 1 and 2 – without customs intervention.100 Jobs are lost. The Rotterdam Dockers issued a statement with the call: „People wake up and join our fight, 100 families are concerned!“ A delegation of the activists spoke to someone from the Port Authority on 15 October: “In that conversation we expressed our displeasure and showed that we are serious and angry. We haven’t really gotten any answer.” On Thursday the 17th, a speech by one of the organizers emphasized that more struggle is needed. A colleague added that the fight should not only be directed against Port Authority, but also against the companies.
A solidarity statement was read out on Thursday on behalf of the Open Action Committee of the Pensions Newsletter (This committee fights for recovery of €2.4 billion harbour pension fees ‘legally’ stolen by insurance concern Aegon).
Uniport closed? Fight for preservation of all jobs!
from De Volle Lading, November 2019
Parent company C. Steinweg Handelsveem announced at the end of October that the Uniport wants to close on 31 March 2020. She also said that she would try to place the staff (200 people) as much as possible with other Steinweg companies and that she would like to conclude a social plan with the union. Many annual contracts were not renewed during the past months. The message shows two sides of capitalist reality.
Profitability destroys jobs
On the one hand, you only have work as long as the capitalist becomes richer. If he no longer earns from you, you will be fired – if the company is no longer profitable, it will be closed. It’s always about profit. It does not matter whether you have worked hard or not, it does not matter whether the company does something that is socially useful or not – the only thing that matters is profit.
Fear of resistance and political awareness
But on the other hand, a capitalist is also afraid of the reactions that profit making can evoke among the working people. He / she wants to take measures without calling up resistance. He / she wants to make choices, without the working people starting to think about possible alternatives to capitalism. That is why Steinweg says it wants to relocate the Uniporters as much as possible within the group and to conclude a social plan with the unions.
Offensive demands and solidarity
Some Uniporters are afraid that fighting for clear demands will lead to Steinweg implementing a cold remediation. But look at the other side: Steinweg does not choose to fear fight. So it’s time to take a step forward: offensive demands, offensive struggle and so mobilize the solidarity of colleagues at other Steinweg companies and in the rest of the port. For colleagues at the other Steinweg companies and in the rest of the port, the following applies: if Uniporters are fired – then it will be your turn. If 200 jobs are cut – where will your children be working soon?
• Fight for preservation of all jobs!
• Relocation at other Steinweg companies!
• Relocation at other port companies!
• Work shorter to keep jobs!
Young people of ITF against devastating climate breakdown
The Committee of young transport workers of the ITF (International Transport Workers‘ Federation) said in a statement: “As we deal with devastating climate breakdown and hurtle towards dangerous tipping points, young people are calling on millions of us across the planet to disrupt business as usual by joining the global climate strikes …The climate crisis won’t wait, so neither will we.
There are no jobs on a dead planet!
Millions on the street for the environment
Around 4.5 million people worldwide participated at the start of the global climate action week on 20 September. Demonstrations were held on ‘Fridays for Future” days in around 2,900 cities in 161 countries. In many countries, promotions were organized during the week until 27 September. In The Hague on the 27th, 35,000 demonstrated, mainly young people. Millions again demonstrated worldwide.
Port Botany protest
Many Australian workers downed tools on September 20 in order to join students who left school to attend climate change rallies. The protest drew around 500,000 people and shut down city centres across the country. Students, workers, and unionists spoke on stage at the Sydney event and guided the crowd in chanting: „One struggle, one fight: climate action, worker’s rights!“
No crane is running
Tommy-John Herbert, a wharfie from Port Botany, said he was at the rally because of the work of the Maritime Union of Australia. „As I speak, not one of our cranes are running,“ he said.
Port Botany wharfies attended the rally using protections for industrial action designed for enterprise bargaining. It is the first known instance of the protections being used for such an action.
Herbert said his employer sent out an email to all workers saying attending the rally is illegal. Many of the port workers came anyway.
Information on a planned Strike on March, 6th 2019 by the Dockworker Union
The union writes in an appeal from March, 3rd 2019:
There is a principally important conflict in the country’s ports. After the employer organization Sveriges Hamnar drastically escalated the conflict with a lockout of the employees, which in practice means wage reduction as a combat measure, the Hamnarbetarförbundet has announced a total closure of work from March 6. The dockworkers‘ union wants to establish a collective agreement with the employer organization. An agreement where the union becomes a full party with the right to negotiate the members‘ terms locally and the right to choose a safety representative. It would be a so-called second agreement, with a worse legal position than the first agreement signed by the Transport Workers‘ Union. It is accepted by the dockers, but one does not want to have any further restrictions on their trade union rights in addition to the applicable case law. The dockworkers‘ union has been refused to sign collective agreements for almost five decades, since the union was formed, In April 2018, the situation became acute, as employers carried out a foreclosure policy which meant that all cooperation with the union was withdrawn. More than one hundred safety representatives have lost their mandates to work for safe workplaces. One is now worried that more serious accidents and, in the worst case, deaths will occur on the quays. Still, half of the country’s dock workers choose to remain members of the Harbor Workers‘ Union. It depends on the union’s organizational model, with extensive membership democracy. It is always the affected members who decide how the union should act in different situations. This applies to everything from local schedule negotiations to central decisions. After negotiations and mediation, the employer organization still refuses to sign a proper collective agreement. They want to add an appendix, where the union declines the opportunity to participate in negotiations on the members‘ everyday lives at workplaces. It would be unreasonable for any trade union to sign agreements on those premises. Having a collective agreement with several unions for the same work is not uncommon in the Swedish labor market. On the contrary, it is very common on the official’s side, and also occurs in the workers‘ profession. Of course it can be done even in the ports. The stevedore industry needs cooperation and long-term work. You cannot achieve this by in practice trying to force half of the country’s dockers to dismantle their trade union organization, but by releasing it as a full contract partner. The dock workers demand respect for the right to be represented in a democratic country by the union they choose. Contribute to the Harbor Workers‘ Conflicts Cash! Swish 123 132 1959 Bg 177-9750 Follow the development at www.hamn.nu and at the Hamnarbetarförbundet’s Facebook page
(based on Google Translation from Swedish)
Solidarity with the Dockers of Astillero Rio Santiago shipyard – February, 19th 2019
International Harbour Worker Exchange of Experience
International Coordination Group
February 19, 2019.
To colleagues at the Astillero Rio Santiago shipyard
we’ve heard of your struggle and strike actions starting in 2018. We express our full solidarity to you in the fight against the dismissal of 3000 workers. Your struggle has meaning far beyond the economic side – for workers‘ rights, for a life worth living, for life and work in dignity. In all this you fight resolutely against the reactionary policies of the Macri government and its
brutal use of police forces. We have great respect for the long tradition of your struggles, which successfully resisted the privatization plans in the 1990s.
It must be a fundamental concern of all dock workers, shipyard workers and transport workers worldwide that not a single fight and strike at the shipyards and ports remains alone. The power of the united and united working class is stronger than the exploitative rule of the capitalists. Let us not be divided into nations, skin colours, locations … High the international solidarity.
So far the International Exchange of Port Workers‘ Experience has brought together port workers and shipyard workers from Europe, above all from the Netherlands, Germany and Russia. We work in various trade unions and work there to ensure that these real fighting organisations are workers and employees for us! Meanwhile we have created a homepage – www.dockers-international.org. The harbour worker exchange of experience is ideologically open for a society without capitalist exploitation and oppression. But we are from the whole heart, our history and conviction anti-fascists. In order to strengthen these requests we also work closely together with the revolutionary world organization ICOR (International Coordination of Revolutionary Parties and Organizations). We will make your struggle and your concerns known via our homepage and the activists of the harbour worker exchange of experiences.
We wish you, your families a lot of strength and solidarity,
You never walk alone
High the International Solidarity
With cordial and solidarity greetings
Birgit, Jeroen, Joachim, Juergen
Dear Mates, Dockers and Affiliates,
here is a serious call for solidarity. In Bremen the dockers are facing a massiv attack on there hard fought rights and working conditions. Probably 450 of them could be dismissed. The usually had been employed by the half statesowned BLG to run the warehouse for Tchibo and other duties. The BLG claims they dockers are to expensive and not flexible enough. This allegation has no basis but the fact, that BLG wants to replace them with low-paid workers. On Friday, May 27th, the union verdi has called for a public demonstration of protest. Please send notes of solidarity. Remember:
You’ll never walk alone!!!
This is the official invitation of verdi:
SATURDAY, 19 MARCH 2016
A strike by dockers at the Port of Grangemouth has been suspended following a breakthrough in a dispute over shift patterns.
we are a group of dockers and friends of dockers who gather in different locations roughly every 3 years to exchange information with the goal to unite the dockers on a rank-and-file basis. The latest meeting was in Hamburg in october 2014 the next one will be around 2017 in Rotterdam.
The expansions of ports in Zeebrugge, Antwerpen, Rotterdam, Wilhelmshaven and London led to vast overcapcities in the containersector in the Northrange. The Global Network Terminal Operators (GNT) are exploiting this situation for an increased competition, to press down dockers wages and attack fixed reliable working times. The EU delivers fitting laws with Port Package III and secret negotiations on TTIP with the US. The result is clear from the beginning: the lowest wages, the badest working conditions and so forth. The demand for a protection of the natural living conditions are abused by massive greenwashing! The international unity of the workers is the answer against such a powerful opponent.
There are ongoing protests, strikes and demonstrations of dockers – worldwide. But the missing link is an international coordination of actions and fights; a consultation is necessary which are our demands and how we can support each other.
Results and Agreements of the International Dockers Exchange of Experience (IDEE)
Struggle for every work- and trainingplace with wages that allow a condition of living in dignity. Equal wage for equal employment – general collectiv labour agreements according to the principle one company one contract in all ports. Rejection and rollback of setbacks.
Transformation of all limited contracts (zero-hour-contracts etc.), part time jobs and employment at agencies to fixed contracts in the ports. Cancellation of all zero-hour-contracts and similar contracts – let us put an end to day labour!
We fight as dockers against the sell-out of the ports and harbours by privatisation. We fight as well against the attempts of general deteriorations of our living and working conditions as part of the dictate of the EU.
We stand for the protection of the natural living conditions by supporting environmentaly friendly means of transport. We support the organization of resistance against the atomic- and armament transportation.
We fight for a better future for our families and especially for the youth. That is why we focuse consciously on the youth. Apprentices may be only employed for the purpose of their training. They may only work in addition to the ordinary dockers.
Friends of the struggle of dockers are heartly wellcomed. We are prepared to join with employees of other companies on the base of a common struggle.
We demand and concentrate our efforts to the achievemt of unions, who stand for the interest of all workers on a democratic and militant base.
We decide on our work and goals democratically. We work on a voluntary and unpaid base. We discuss and debate in a solidary way. We are ueberparteilich (without regard for affiliations) – we welcome every democrat. Dockers are international, that is why we do not tolerate reactionary, nationalistic and fashistic ideas.
We are open in terms of world outlook, because the idea of a world without oppression and exploitation offsite capitalism inspires the day-to-day struggle and provides a perspective.
We are financially independent – we finance our work by ourselves, because we are only committed to our rules and resolutions! Donations are welcome even if bound to a special purpose of our work as long as the donor does not include further conditions with the donation.
Resolutions for the continuing work:
We meet again – well prepared with a plan to develop further international connections. …
Our homepage will have a unified appearance in three languages – English, German, Netherlands, the ports are solely responsible for there contributions on base of our common rules and regulations of the International Dockers Exchange of Experience. In our apperance of the homepage we strive for a better timeliness to inform us mutually faster more efficient and with better arguments. Therefore and for more reliable and tight cooperation we need more interpreters f.i. Spanish.
Solidarität international e.V. passed the following resolution on their 9th national gathering:
SI supports the IDEE especial with interpretation work, mainly in Dutch, French an Spanish. The IDEE consists up to date besides Germany also Netherlands, Spain and Greece; colleagues from further countries should be mobilised for the meeting 2014 in Hamburg. The struggle and protests of dockers have far reaching effects for the struggle for liberation and against oppression in their countries and beyound their frontiers because they target an Achilles‘ heel of the international system of production the transport on sea. …
Dockworkers Exchange of Experiences
Resolution of the 2nd ICOR World Conference
The 2nd World Conference of the ICOR supports the 5th Exchange of Experiences of the Dockworkers on 25th and 26th October 2014 in Hamburg/Germany. The meetings of the dockworkers so far took place with dockworkers from the Netherlands, from Germany and Spain. Dockworkers play a key role in the closely intertwined system of imperialist worldwide production. Again and again there are strikes and struggles in the quays – around the globe. However, these struggles are only little connected and coordinated yet, and this connection is still often under reformist control.
The 2nd World Conference of the ICOR supports this meeting of the dockworkers based on the principles which have been agreed upon and remain valid. It makes use of the respective capacities of the member organizations for the participation of dockworkers from all continents.