Lashing is dockers’ work! Union struggle achieves major victory for European dockers

23 Feb 2018

Yesterday, 22 February 2018, an agreement was reached between the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) which represents international maritime employers.

The agreement is particularly significant for dockers and their struggle to ensure that lashing work is dockers’ work. A revision of the so-called Dockers’ Clause clarifies that dockers have the right to carry out cargo-handling operations. And that includes lashing! The agreement also gives more legal certainty if companies do not comply with this rule.

As the Chair of ETF Dockers I am very proud of the collective work that our unions have done to reach this agreement’, says Terje Samuelsen. ‘We have fought hard in the workplace and in politics to achieve this step. The struggle is not over, but this agreement definitely offers a chance to solve ongoing conflicts in Europe and other regions.’

This change in the Dockers’ Clause was one of the ITF’s main demands, and it was particularly important for the European affiliate unions. In Europe, and especially in the North Sea and Baltic Sea areas, dockers have already been determinedly fighting for several years to get back lashing jobs.

ETF Dockers’ Vice-Chair Torben Seebold adds ‘We started the ETF/ITF lashing campaign back in 2015, because this issue was so important for our rank-and-file members. The double blow of automation and declining cargo volumes is eroding jobs in European docks. So we are fighting to ensure that every single dockers’ job is done by dockers. Solidarity between dockers and seafarers is at the heart of our 70-year-old Flags of Convenience (FOC) Campaign. With this agreement we proved once again that this solidarity is as strong as ever.’

We are now ready to work on the implementation of the agreement,’ said Niek Stam from ETF/ITF Dutch affiliate FNV Havens. ‘We’ll make sure that dockers are trained and available to lash in each port of call. And we will open a dialogue with the European employers. We also plan to invite all major feeder companies to work together to ensure smooth enforcement: the sooner we reach a mutual understanding, the sooner our dockers will be ready to provide their excellent services.’

At the same time, we will not stop putting pressure on the competent authorities to make sure that regulations are amended if necessary. We must be very clear that all over Europe only one rule applies: dockers do the lashing!’

This new IBF Framework Agreement will be valid from 2019 to 2022. It was also approved by the Fair Practice Committee Steering Group (FPCSG), which is made of representatives of ITF Seafarers and Dockers affiliates. See full details of the agreement in the JNG/ITF press release.

The Lashing Campaing is the ETF Dockers’ Section priority campaign within the ETF Fair Transport Campaign.

For more information:

Bryn Watkins, communications officer, the European Transport Workers’ Federation

Tel: +32 2 285 45 87

Mob: +32 470 93 05 90