Rotterdam’s port workers vote again to strike

Rotterdam’s port workers vote again to strike

Container workers members of Rotterdam dockers’ union FNV Havens have almost unanimously rejected the port’s employers’ final offer and have voted to strike in 2016 to protest against potential job losses at the port’s new highly automated container terminals.

The union presented to employers an ultimatum which expires on January 6, 2016. If the employers do not respond in line with the union’s requests by that date, a series of strikes are expected to be implemented as from January.

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

FNV Havens and the union CNV Vakmensen are now reportedly demanding a job guarantee for workers until 2022, which is three years less than their original demand.

The unions are also demanding a financial settlement to compensate the social consequences of automation and overcapacity.

The employers’ final offer, which was rejected in a meeting last week, included a job guarantee until July 1, 2020.

Niek Stam, leader of FNV Havens and member of the ETF Dockers’ Section Steering Committee, said in a statement: “If they do not respond positively, we will introduce tough actions in and around the container companies. We call on everyone to stand in solidarity.”

Stam previously stated that the decision to increase capacity and build automated terminals comes with the responsibility to cover the social costs of those choices.

He added: “For many years we have warned about the dangers of expansion and automation plans but the port authority always refused to engage in a meaningful dialogue.

“We expect that up to 800 people will lose their job. This is not fair nor sustainable and workers are not ready to pay the price for inadequate business choices.”

The unions and the port’s employers have been in talks since April 2015. Prior to the latest attempts to negotiate, the majority of the unions’ members had initially voted in November this year to hold a series of strikes in December 2015 and January 2016.

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.