Port workers and seafarers are inevitably linked, as neither industry can exist without the other. The two professions also face related changes related to ever-larger ships, automatation and the consolidation of huge alliances in the shipping industry. By building networks of solidarity and standing together, workers onboard and onshore can have more say in the future of their industries, and the impact changes will have on their working conditions.
On 13-15 February, European dockers and seafarers met in Hamburg to discuss EU port and maritime policies. They discussed trade unions’ approach towards the ongoing revision of the EU’s Consortium Block Exemption Regulation (CBER), which governs fair competition in the shipping sector. The conclusion was that, in the light of the growing consolidation of the maritime sector and the pressure that shipping alliances put on ports, the CBER in its current form should be repealed.
Participants also discussed the upcoming entry into force of the Port Services Regulatios and its possible impact on the workforce. In addition, they met with the representatives of the German shipowners association and the Port of Hamburg, to explore the employer’s perspective.
Finally, the union activists gathered in Hamburg, including staff from the ETF Secretariat, sent an enthusiastic message of support to their colleagues and our affiliate unions in Belgium, who were participating in a national strike.