Young dockers at the negotiating table!

7 Jun 2019

Our young dockers from 8 European countries met for the third time on 5-7 June to exchange experiences and build relationships between their unions. After meetings in Antwerp and Hamburg, this time the participants were invited by the ETF and Solidarność to Gdynia in Poland.

The main theme of this year’s meeting was negotiations and negotiating skills. However, we started off with a thorough analysis of the results of the European elections. The young dockers exchanged updates on the situations in their countries and how trade unions can influence domestic and European politics.

On the second day, together with the ETF Youth co-chairs Bera Tommasi and Kamil Butler, the participants delved into the different aspects of negotiating. In working groups, they answered questions about how to prepare for collective bargaining, the process and actors involved. They also discussed tactics for successful negotiations. The young dockers also heard first hand about negotiations at the nearby DCT Terminal in Gdańsk, where the members of Solidarność started the collective bargaining process from scratch in a difficult environment. The day finished with a negotiation role play – with the groups playing either the role of the trade union or the employers.

The gathering finished with the visit to the European Solidarity Centre in Gdańsk, where the participants could learn about the struggle of the workers against Poland’s Commmunist regime in the 1980s.

As ever, our young dockers meeting was also a great opportunity to share experiences of building youth movements. For example, young dockers from the Belgian unions ACV and BTB met with Germany’s ver.di to talk about ways to create youth groups.