The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and the FNV Bondgenoten trade union repeated their call today for urgent dialogue on the future of the Port of Rotterdam, which is facing potentially damaging overcapacity. The two organisations spoke out following a two day meeting that brought together the ITF dockers’ section secretary and FNV Bondgenoten dockers’ section members from all the container terminals in Rotterdam to examine the impacts of automation and overcapacity on the existing terminals and workforce.
Niek Stam, national secretary of the Bondgenoten dockers’ section, explained: “We used cargo handling data collected by members at all the terminals to model possible scenarios resulting from the opening of the new highly automated terminals APMT Maasvlakte 2 and Rotterdam Gateway (RGW). The results are startling: as many as 1,000 jobs could be at risk if shipping lines move their business to the new terminals in the coming years.”
He continued: “The FNV is calling on the port authority and companies in Rotterdam – both terminal operators and shipping lines – to start a serious dialogue on how we can work together to mitigate the human cost of the combined impacts of these two serious issues. We welcome further detailed data from these parties to make the modelling as accurate as possible, as this would help to identify the problems and potential solutions.
“Another matter of major concern is the lack of willingness by RGW to engage with the union to discuss access to the new terminal, recognition and a collective agreement. FNV has long standing relationships with all the other terminal operators in Rotterdam and has signed collective agreements with them. It is simply asking RGW to respect trade union rights and the standards that have been established and agreed with other employers in the port.
“The union is reaching out to the four shipping lines that hold 80 per cent of the stake in RGW, as well as DPW to start discussions on a memorandum of understanding on these issues. It will be writing to these companies shortly with its proposal and has also sought the assistance of the ITF in opening dialogue with these companies.”
Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers’ section, added: “The ITF attaches great importance tos good relations and a decent level of employment in the Port of Rotterdam. If those were lost there it would be a tragedy for good indsutrial relations and set a terrible example for other ports. That’s why the ITF is backing our colleagues in the FNV and supporting them in their quest for a collaborative and successful process of dialogue and problem solving.”