Lashing is Dockers' Work!

Lashing is the operation which secures cargo (containers, vehicles, general cargo, etc.) on board a ship. This is a hard and hazardous task, but a vital one to ensure that cargo, ships and seafarers reach their destination safely. That is why seafarers’ collective bargaining agreements signed by the ITF and its affiliate unions contain a clause stating that lashing can only be done by qualified dockers, unless otherwise agreed by the local dockers’ unions.

Regrettably, this is currently not always the case. Shipping companies want to speed up port operations or save money by not hiring trained dockworkers to do this job. Instead, seafarers are told to do it, while being paid nothing or very little for this extra work. They end up stressed and fatigued because of long working hours and tight sailing schedules. They are being left with no time to go ashore, to rest or to contact friends and family back home. Seafarers have even been injured or killed because they are not properly trained to do lashing work but are being asked to do it anyway.

What is more, in a context of growing automation and digitalisation, lashing and cargo-securing operations are a vital source of work that can retain jobs for dockers in European ports.

The ETF/ITF European lashing campaign links together national campaigns run by our affiliates. Our goal is to ensure that lashing is done in a safe manner by qualified dockers in all European ports. Launched in 2015 in the broader framework of the Flags of Convenience campaign, this campaign has a political, an industrial and a legal dimension.

A major achievement of the campaign was the negotiation of a new, more enforceable and binding dockers’ clause at the International Bargaining Forum: the group that brings together seafarers’ unions and maritime employers at global level. The negotiators approved a clause stating the lashing work should be done by qualified dockers. This agreement was finalised in February 2018, and ETF is now working to prepare the implementation of this new clause in Europe.

At the same time, we are supporting our affiliates in their political work to make sure that all existing regulations at port, regional or national level recognise lashing as dockers’ work. Indeed, regulations provide the highest level of protection in case of abuses.

Are you seafarer that has been told to do lashing work?

If your company, master or officer is asking you to do lashing and unlashing in ports and they have no written permission from the local dockers’ union then they are in breach of this agreement. Let us know if this happens to you by sending us an email detailing what happened, the vessel name and location to We will keep your details confidential to the ITF and won’t tell your employer.

Protect your safety and support your brothers and sisters on the docks by refusing to do lashing and unlashing work in ports on vessels covered by ITF agreements!

Latest news of our lashing campaign

News August 27, 2020

Unions to continue lashing battle to achieve compliance with non-seafarers’ work clause

Court of Rotterdam issued a decision today to dismiss the unions’ preliminary request to prohibit the lashing by seafarers immediately in advance of the results of main proceedings. Despite this decision, unions believe that the agreement is clear that this cargo handling work must be undertaken by trained, experienced dockers when they are present.

Event February 25, 2020

The future of European Shipping needs to be social!

Last week, European Shipping Week 2020 was held in Brussels, organised by the European Community Shipowners’ Associations (ECSA). This year, the ETF Maritime Transport section took part in a variety of ways, with trade union representatives from nine different countries attending and contributing to the programme.