Norway union blockades port to protect dockers’ work

12 Apr 2013

Dockers in the Port of Drammen, Norway have successfully prevented non-registered workers from unloading a ship via a harbour blockade.

The action by ITF and ETF affiliated union members in the port was put in place to stop the unloading of the Carta Maria, which was carrying cargofrom Estonia, by Polish labourers. The vessel is registered under the Barbados flag of convenience and owned by Norwegian shipping company Carta Shipping Kopervik.

Chair of the ETF Dockers Section within NTF (Norwegian Transport Workers) Terje Samuelson said: “Dockers in Drammen weren’t willing to accept that non-registered workers would be doing their jobs. Being a docker is about more than just turning up in the morning, it’s a profession and the people who do it should be respected as experts in their field.”

He continued: “Dockers won’t stand by and let their jobs be taken from under them, they are prepared to fight to protect their livelihoods. In this case no effort was made to change the shipping route despite knowing there is an agreement on unloading cargo at Drammen, that’s just not acceptable.”

The collective bargaining agreement for port workers in Drammen states that vessels in the harbour will use registered port workers as stipulated in International Labour Organisation Convention 137 on port work.

The local union has been seeking agreement on protection of loading and unloading work as dockers’ work through meetings with shipping companies but took the blockade action when these proved fruitless.

Despite threats of fines and imprisonment from the company hired to unload the vessel, after three hours the Port Authority sent in five men from the registered unionised dockers to unload the ship and the blockade was lifted.