Marc Loridan, responsible for Ports and Docks in the ETF affiliated Belgian union ABVV-BTB, was interviewed by Livia Spera, ETF Political Secretary for Dockers, about his impressions on the ETF 2013 Congress.
What will you remember of these congress days?
What first comes into mind is the strong plea of Michael SOMMER (President of DGB) against flexibility, privatization and deregulation. I also recall the round table discussion about “Transport policies for the people” with Mr. Keir FITCH (deputy head of the cabinet of Commissioner S. KALLAS) and the determination of the European officials to liberalise different services/sectors in Europe, without any attempt on their behalf trying to create a more social Europe for the European citizens. The enthusiasm of the young congress participants to be part of the ETF and their call for a more social Europe was also something that really charmed me!
The congress was held in a good atmosphere that brought the participants of the different trade unions closer together. Congratulations are in order for the excellent and dedicated work of the ETF staff!
What’s in your opinion the most important part in the main motion?
The real intentions of the European Commission are often to be read between the lines, as these are regularly hidden behind a facade of willingness to have an open dialogue with trade unions. Moreover, instead of addressing all policy issues in one package, as it was done in the past, challenges lie in several legislative and non-legislative proposals.
From the point of view of the Dockers’ Section’s the main objectives are the fight against further attempts from the European Commission to liberalise dock labour and the deregulation of the working conditions of our European dockworkers. The ETF also needs to pursue the improvement of health and safety policies for port workers and the improvement of training standards. Finally, we consider it as one of our priorities to contribute to the promotion of female employment in the sector. I consider the organization of political campaigns and industrial actions whenever needed as one of the most effective actions to achieve the aforementioned objectives.
What’s the next challenge for your sector?
The next challenge for the dockers’ sector will be the start of the Social Dialogue for Ports with the employers.
Both on European and on national level we are willing to enter in a meaningful discussion and cooperate on H&S and Training for the benefit of our dockworkers. But at the same time we are ready to fight any attempt to liberalise dock labour and deregulate the working conditions of the European dockworkers.
We have to ensure the European Commission doesn’t divide the European dockers and their unions and break their solidarity by means of infringement procedures they aim to install against individual member states for non-respect of the Treaty rules, notably of the 4 economic freedoms.