The ETF Dockers Section represents dockers, white-collar employees in terminals and port authorities, maintenance workers, and other categories of workers in port operations and port logistics.
In a globalised world, the port sector plays a vital role in the logistics chains: more than 70% of goods that enter or leave Europe move by sea. Ports have been evolving constantly over the last decades, and so has port work.
The ETF Dockers Section acts at various levels to steer these changes for the benefit of port workers and their communities.
As the voice of port workers in Brussels, we represent the interests of our members within the EU policy-making processes. We ensure that port workers’ priorities and interests are taken into account in all EU policies and legislative initiatives which will have an impact on them.
We coordinate international campaigns and actions and offer international solidarity and support in disputes involving our affiliate unions. We promote research and provide training to our members to build capacity at our affiliate unions.
We have three overarching priorities:
Shaping the future of port work
The Section has a comprehensive policy on automation, and we campaign for a socially sustainable approach to technological developments.
The Section ensures that our affiliate unions are informed and ready to take action on the consequences of automation for their members’ work. We also help them plan for the impact of technological changes on union organising and collective bargaining strategies. The Section advocates for a fair organisation of port labour, for example by promoting research on labour schemes and campaigning for the protection of workers’ rights in case of a change of port operator.
In addition to these activities within our movement to shape the future of dockwork, the Section is involved in a permanent dialogue with the relevant stakeholders and institutions. We promote policies and legislation that put people at the centre of the technological developments in European ports.
The future of dockwork is also about ensuring an improvement in occupational health and safety in Europe’s ports. To this end, the Section works to implement the priorities identified by the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee where we meet with port and terminal employers.
Campaigning for fairer European policies and legislation on shipping and ports
Together with the ETF Maritime Transport Section, we advocate for fairer shipping and port policies by tackling issues that have impact on port labour at both EU and national level: state aid regimes for ports and shipping, infrastructure financing policies, concessions, policies accompanying the technological and market-based developments in the maritime logistics chain.
Boosting our capacity for international solidarity
International solidarity has always been strong in the dockers’ movement. The ETF Dockers Section aims to utilise and strengthen this solidarity. We actively engage our affiliates in providing mutual support in case of disputes, as well as to provide a strong industrial base for our political campaigns at European level. Better involvement of young workers and women in our work is part of this strategy, as is the development of company-specific networks and sub-regional cooperation in strategic areas.