Dockers united under the banner of the ETF affiliate NSZZ Solidarność gathered in front of the headquarters of the Gdańsk terminal management office today. They voiced their concerns over the lack of sanitary breaks in the port during the COVID-19 pandemic and the reluctancy of management to have a meaningful negotiation for the renewal of the collective bargaining agreement.
In spring, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, sanitary breaks were introduced in the port of Gdańsk. They introduced breaks between different shifts, meaning that workers entering and exiting the port didn’t meet, decreasing the risks of potential infections spreading. The measure protected not only the workers in the Port of Gdańsk but also in the Port of Gdynia, as some dockers work in both locations. Based on the lowering of the health risks by July, the breaks were stopped, with an occupational doctor stating that in case the health situation deteriorated, they should be reintroduced. In August, three employees tested positive for COVID-19, but the breaks were not set up, putting health and safety of more than 1000 workers in the port under significant risk.
The lack of compassion and responsiveness is also reflected in the employer’s approach to collective bargaining. In August, the previous collective agreement has expired and has not been replaced by a new one. The reason lies in management’s refusal to take the negotiations seriously for the past six months and their obstruction tactics. At today’s protest, dockers demanded an agreement to be finalized and signed, providing well-deserved stability. They refuse management’s attempts to blame the situation on COVID-19, as they have said themselves that the effects of the crisis on the company are far from being severe.
If the employer – DCT Gdańsk – does not respond to their demands and improves the situation, the union will address the calls to the government, a co-owner of DCT Gdańsk.