We back Portuguese dockers’ action against precarious working conditions

28 Nov 2018

Dockers in the Portuguese port of Setubal are bravely fighting a legitimate struggle to end the use of precarious work in the port. For the last twenty years, the majority of Dockers working at the terminal have not benefited from a permanent employment contract. They are hired for a single shift and do not benefit from basic rights such as protection in cases of sickness or injury, even if caused by an accident at work. Last week, the vessel Paglia was loaded by scabs who entered the terminal escorted by the police while the Dockers were taking industrial action.

With the German port of Emden being the next port call of the vessel Paglia, ETF/ITF German affiliated union ver.di did not hesitate to use its industrial strength to support the Portuguese Dockers. It also used its political power to try and influence the resolution of the conflict. Today, 28 November, the works councils of Emden Autoterminal and Volkswagen’s local factory have jointly called for a workers’ assembly starting at 13:45 coinciding with the beginning of the operations on Paglia, and have encouraged all workers to attend.

Thomas Mendrzik, chair of ver.di maritime section, joined the actions in Emden. He declared: ‘The fight against precarious working conditions has always been at the heart of the Dockers unions’ action globally. It is appalling that in 2018 some employers keep using the same old strategies to weaken working people and their unions.

‘ver.di’s strong presence along the maritime transport chain allows us to guarantee good working conditions for both the seafarers employed on the Paglia vessel as well as for the Dockers in Emden. Therefore it’s natural to support our Portuguese brothers and sisters: we can’t tolerate that, on the other side of the transport chain workers are suffering from precarious working conditions.

‘We have also received strong support from our sister union IG Metall and the works council in the Volkswagen factory in Emden. Volkswagen’s car are being transported by Paglia from Setubal and for both our unions it is imperative that workers’ rights are respected all along the supply and transport chain.

Torsten Schut, chair of works council at the car terminal EVAG, one of the shareholders of Autoport said: ‘This is an emblematic struggle, as it is about basic trade unionism: workers fighting for fair working conditions. We are proud to give our support to the brave Portuguese dockers’.