FNV union’s port section secretary has warned that Rotterdam’s competitive position may have been weakened because of lengthy negotiations with operators.
Niek Stam’s statement followed the conclusion of an 18-month consultation process between the port authority, container operators and trade unions FNV and CNV Vakmensen over job guarantees once two new Maasvlakte terminals become fully operational.
Stam, who celebrated reaching an agreement guaranteeing dockers job security until July 2020, also warned that FNV is very aware “of all the time that’s been lost here and the very real risk that the competitive position of Rotterdam may have been weakened because of the length of this process”.
Stam stressed that this “can’t happen again”, adding that better preparation is needed for the future.
He explained: “We are in favour of regular monitoring of developments and discussion between the union and management of problems that we can see coming over the horizon.
“That gives time for port operators and union, ultimately workers, to collaborate on the most appropriate measures to handle changes, whether that be automation, over capacity or the arrival of larger ships.”
The negotiations concluded last week with an agreement including guarantee of jobs for the next four years for all dockers who were in permanent employment at the start of 2015.
The agreement also included commitments to explore the possibility of bringing lashing regulations in line with those of neighbouring countries, and stipulations about utilising unionised labour to handle containers between the first and second highly-automated Maavlakte terminals.
The terms of agreement are set to be reviewed in 2019.
As part of the agreement, the terminal operators and the port authority also agreed on the measures’ financing, which involves approximately €23m (US$25.5m).
Earlier this year, FNV claimed that it expected up to 800 people to lose their job due to expansion and automation plans at the port, especially once the highly-automated Maasvlakte 2 terminals become fully operational in 2018.