Port workers strike in Italy 

Port workers strike in Italy

Workers across Italian ports launched a 24-hour strike on Friday, voicing their dissatisfaction over the lack of lashing legislation enforcement and poor safety in Italian ports.

The strike was lead by unions FILT CGIL, Fit Cisl and Uiltrasporti Nazionale, affiliates of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and Dockers’ division of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).

All Italian ports were shut on Friday as a result of the industrial action, according to the Political Secretary of ETF Dockers Livia Spera. 

In line with the latest International Bargaining Forum (IBF) framework agreement reached between the ITF and Joint Negotiating Group (JNG) in February, only dockworkers have the exclusive rights to carry out lashing and other cargo handling services in ports for ships which are sailing under the flag of convenience.

As explained by Spera, Italian legislation allows national companies to carry out self-handling, which basically means that crew members of Italian-flagged ships can carry out lashing in particular circumstances. However, on such occasions, the shipping companies are required to get a permission from the relevant port authority.

Over the past six months, shipping companies have started to abuse this right and, have even breached the law, asking their seafarers to perform loading and unloading activities without obtaining port authority’s permission.  Some port authorities have also played their part by failing to enforce the regulation.

This is not sustainable because it jeopardizes a lot of dockworkers’ jobs, Spera said.

The unions are calling for dialogue with the authorities and concrete actions in order to deal with the issues at hand.

“In general, there is a lack of proper response from the relevant institutions and the government. This has been a problem for quite some time,“ Spera said.

The one-day strike follows two-hour nation-wide strikes staged as a sign of warning over the recent workplace safety situation in April 2018. Unions are urging for safety at ports to be upgraded after a number of workplace fatalities occurring this year.

For the time being, there are no concrete schedules for potential future strikes or union actions.