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Dockers back ports of convenience campaign

5 August 2006

Delegates from the MUA*
Dockers from the Maritime Union of Australia take a break during the Dockers' Section Conference*

Dockers at Congress yesterday strongly backed the ITF’s ports of convenience (POC) campaign and endorsed an accompanying draft strategy. The strategy builds on input provided by affiliates at various meetings over the past year, since the Dockers’ Section meeting in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where it was decided that a POC campaign should not be delayed.

The campaign aims to promote acceptable standards in ports and terminals around the world and to stamp out the exploitation of dock workers and prevent job losses. Affiliates have identified a number of key topics on which the campaign could focus. These are: global network terminal operators, competition, privatisation, casualisation and the undermining of trade union rights.

The initiative will seek the support of seafarers, given the long history of cooperation between dockers’ and seafarers’ unions on the flag of convenience (FOC) campaign. It will also attempt to develop strategic alliances in the regions and sub-regions to strengthen unions through solidarity.

Commenting on the ports of convenience campaign at the conference Frank Leys, Dockers’ Section Secretary, said: “Dockers are under siege. We have been the strong arm of the FOC campaign for years. We will now launch the POC campaign and fight for our rights.”

He also mentioned contact with Dubai Ports World, the company that recently took over P&O, and discussed work done at the International Labour Organisation on a set of guidelines on social dialogue.

“Social dialogue should be a policy for every day and not just before they make everyone redundant,” said Leys. He added: “We have to look forward and make sure that we have strong unions in the future.”

During the meeting, delegates watched a Dutch-made film on the campaign by European unions which led to the recent defeat of the European Union’s ports directive aimed at the liberalisation of EU ports.

Paddy Crumlin, 1st Vice-Chair of the Dockers’ Section and National Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), reminded delegates of the link between events in one part of the world and those in another.

Citing the Patrick dispute in Australia in 1998, during which 1,400 dockworkers represented by the MUA were sacked, he pointed to the importance of international solidarity in helping to bring about a satisfactory settlement. “Everywhere there is a dockworker, there has to be a dockworkers’ friend in another country.”

In addition, he called for dockers’ issues to be taken up by those involved in the fight against flag of convenience shipping and added: “We go away with the willingness to campaign.”




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Copyright © 2020 ITF
ITF House, 49-60 Borough Road, London SE1 1DR  |  +44 20 7403 2733   |  mail@itf.org.uk