Dispute Ends In Rotterdam With New Agreement

An ongoing dispute between dockers and management at the global network terminal (GNT)-operated Port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands has come to an end after a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was made

Members of ITF- and ETF- affiliated union FNV Bondgenoten have held a series of strikes over the past month in protest at the uncompromising stance of Rotterdam port operator APM Terminals (APMT) during negotiations over the terms and conditions of a new agreement. One of the crucial points for the union was to guarantee job security for workers not only at the existing port but also at the terminal that APMT is building at Rotterdam’s new harbour, Maasvlakte 2.

Now, after a marathon negotiation session ending in the early hours of Wednesday morning, a new CBA has been pre-agreed, with FNV membership set to vote in the coming weeks via a referendum to make it official. Running until early 2014, the agreement guarantees employment for workers until 2016 and includes the stipulation that all employees will have the opportunity to undertake training that would qualify them for jobs at the new APMT terminal.

As well as being a victory for Dutch dockers, the dispute at Rotterdam has also sparked a wave of international solidarity with FNV receiving messages of support from dockers’ unions all over the world. In addition, several unions were ready to take lawful action to delay vessels which would have been diverted from Rotterdam to other ports during more upcoming strike action.

Niek Stam, national secretary of the dockers section of FNV Bondgenoten said: “We want to thank all the unions who sent us messages of solidarity but particularly the unions who told us that they wanted to do more than only expressing the solidarity with words. This was a great support for us and certainly backed us up at the negotiation table.”

Go to the dedicated GNT campaign website for more on the ITF campaign to secure acceptable standards of health and safety in all GNT ports.