Port Unions Resolve To Organise Campaign Against DPW

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ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) dockers’ union representatives meeting in Chicago, USA, resolved this week to organise a global campaign highlighting the need for global network terminal operator (GNT) DP World to engage with unions over trade union rights/representation in a number of countries.

The representatives agreed that action is required, particularly with regards the situation at London Gateway terminal, UK, where Unite the Union’s offer of cooperative working is being snubbed. Speaking from the Chicago meeting Steve Biggs from Unite said: “What we’re seeing at London Gateway is a  rejection of the workers’ choice. This is not the way we expect, or can allow, an employer to behave in the 21st century.”

Meanwhile in the Port of Brisbane, Australia, representatives are calling for transparency in negotiations between the Maritime Union of Australia and DP World. Workers in Brisbane have been dealing with issues of representation, job losses, contracting out, casualisation and a possible cut in working conditions as a result of planned automation.

ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin said: “We have called on ITF dockers’ and seafarers’ unions to make action ready which will force DPW back to the negotiating table over London Gateway in particular. Our unions have been open to dialogue throughout these disputes and where that is being reciprocated we welcome it, but we are not prepared to ignore the cases where DP World looks like it is ignoring its responsibilities to workers.”

The dockers’ meeting agreed a resolution, which stated:

The ITF Dockers’ Section Conference held in Chicago on 8-9 July 2013;

BELIEVES that Dubai Ports World is systematically attempting to undermine the wages and working conditions of workers all over the world by engaging in anti-union behaviour, including:

·       Refusing to enter into meaningful negotiations with UNITE and refusing to sign a collective agreement to cover workers presently being hired at its new London Gateway Terminal;

·        Refusing to recognise Madras Port Trust Employees’ Union, the legitimate union representing workers in Chennai, India, and promoting a yellow union entirely controlled by the management of Chennai Container Terminal Ltd, which owned by Dubai Ports World;

·       Hiring port workers out of the official port workers’ register, with the objective of not negotiating a CBA with the union SUTRAMPORPC, even when the Peruvian Ministry has recognised the Union does have a branch collective agreement in Callao, that should be respected;

·       Denying the right of freedom of association to workers at International Container Transhipment Terminal, a Dubai Ports World hub terminal in Cochin, India;

·       Not renewing the collective agreement at Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT-DPW), which expired in August2012;

·       Using the introduction of automated machinery at its Brisbane, Australia terminal as a cover for undermining union organisation, insisting on massive job cuts and the transfer of some union jobs to management.

DECLARES Dubai Ports World London Gateway to be a Port of Convenience, and to be a priority target for the ITF’s Port of Convenience campaign.

CALLS UPON the ITF to develop and strengthen ongoing coordination of global union organization in all Dubai Ports World terminals.

FURTHERS CALLS UPON the ITF to organise a global campaign to highlight Dubai Ports World’s anti-union activities, including a global day of action in September 2013. The campaign should involve unions representing dock workers at other terminal operators, and should also reach out to unions representing workers at Dubai Ports World who are not affiliated to the ITF. 

CONCLUDES that the campaign shall have the following demands:

•         Dubai Ports World shall recognise legitimate unions and immediately begin negotiations for collective agreements at London Gateway, Chennai, and all other Dubai Ports World terminals,; and

•         Where Dubai Ports World seeks to introduce automation to its terminals, that this be done with full union consultation and a genuine attempt to prevent job losses.

For more on London Gateway see www.itfglobal.org/press-area/index.cfm/pressdetail/8820.

For more about the Brisbane situation see www.itfglobal.org/solidarity/Brisbane-wharfies.cfm.