In Belgium, dock work is regulated by the “Wet Major”, establishing that the loading and unloading of ships in the Belgian ports shall only be done by recognized dock workers, for safety reasons. Recognition is done by joint committees, in which employers and trade unions sit on an equal basis. Indeed, since the entry into force of the “Wet Major” social partners in Belgian ports have built a solid social dialogue that has established a climate of social peace.
Port labour pools are very modern forms of labour organisation, which allow to mitigate the effects of the fluctuations in the demand for port services while guaranteeing social protection and job retention. What is more, Belgian ports are among the most productive in Europe and have experienced a steep growth in volumes also thanks to the labour pool system.
A week ago, the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice issued an opinion on the Belgian “Wet Major”, stating that the Belgian pool system of recognized dock workers defies the right of establishment and free movement of workers under the EU law.
Reacting to Advocate General’s opinion, the ETF Management Committee put forward a statement at its meeting today. In it, the members renewed the solidarity of the whole ETF to the Belgian affiliates BTB-ABVV, ACV TRANSCOM and ACVLB and to the Belgian dock workers. The MC noted that the verdict, which is due in a few months, could heavily hit the Belgian port sector, representing a threat to the safety of Belgian dockers and to their social protection.