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Rotterdam’s port workers go on strike
APMT's Maasvlakte II terminal opened on April 24, 2015

Rotterdam’s port workers go on strike

Container workers members of Rotterdam dockers’ union FNV Havens have gone on a 24-hour strike starting yesterday afternoon after employers failed to meet demands over job guarantees once two new Maasvlakte terminals become fully operational.

Union members have walked out of work and onto the picket line yesterday at 3.15pm (GMT+1) in the one-day strike affecting terminals operated by ECT Delta Terminal and those operated by APM Terminals (APMT) at both Maasvlakte and Maasvlakte II.

The strike comes after the employers failed to meet the union’s demand that job security until at least 2022 would be guaranteed for all employees who had a permanent job on January 1, 2015.

In December 2015, the Dutch union presented to the employers an ultimatum to respond in line with its requests by January 6, 2016.

The union claimed that it expects up to 800 people to lose their job due to expansion and automation plans at the port, particularly once the highly automated Maasvlakte 2 terminals become fully operational.

Niek Stam, FNV Havens’ secretary, said at a press conference: “Hundreds of jobs are being put risk because there just isn’t the industry growth in Rotterdam to sustain these new terminals as well as the existing ones; employers are trying to play musical chairs with our jobs!”

“Members are going to take action because they know that they have to stand up for their rights as hard working men and women,” he added, “our livelihoods and the future of our families and our communities rely on decent, secure jobs and those things are worth fighting for.”

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) are supporting the affiliated Dutch union.

Torben Seebold, second vice chair of the ITF dockers’ section and vice chair of the ETF dockers’ section, said: “We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the Port of Rotterdam.

“The decision to take strike action is not an easy one but after months of fruitless negotiation and on an issue this important, dockers here have been left with little choice. They have the support of transport workers around the world.”

Representatives from the Belgian Transport Union (BTB), the German United Services Trade Union (Ver.di) and the French General Confederation of Labour (CGT) joined the workers on the picket line.

Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant reported that FNV Havens has made agreements with the connected unions in Antwerp, Le Havre and Hamburg to try to prevent handling of vessels destined for Rotterdam.

Rotterdam’s union and the port’s employers have been in talks since April last year, but an agreement between the two parties was never reached.

The Port of Rotterdam, which is Europe’s first container port, ranked 11th in the 2015 issue of CM’s World Top Container Ports, having handled 12m teu in 2014.