Rotterdam dockworkers’ talks with employers fall through, strike imminent

After the talks between Rotterdam Dockworkers’ unions FNV Havens and CNV Vakmensen with the port authority and the employers fell through, the unions are ready to call for a mobilisation of their members, European Transport Workers’ Federation said.

On Friday, 11 December the employers and port authority left the negotiating table where discussions were being held with the unions on the financial contribution the port of Rotterdam is expected to pay to compensate the social consequences of automation and overcapacity in the container sector.

“Those who decided to increase capacity and to build automated terminals should cover the social costs of their choices,” said Niek Stam, leader of FNV Havens and member of the ETF Dockers’ Section Steering Committee.

“For many years we have warned about the dangers of expansion and automation plans but the port authority always refused to engage in a meaningful dialogue. We expect that up to 800 people will lose their job. This is not fair nor sustainable and workers are not ready to pay the price for inadequate business choices,” he added.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority said that the container terminal companies located on the Maasvlakte and the lashing companies have offered the unions guaranteed employment for the next 4.5 years.

“In addition, they have developed a set of measures designed to prevent redundancies in the industry over the next few years,” the port authority added, however, during the negotiations, employees commenced a strike, which caused the employers and the Port Authority to terminate the negotiations.

“They have indicated that they do not wish to continue the negotiations while there is a threat of further industrial actions. The companies and the Port Authority have expressed their regret at the employees’ actions,” the port authority went on to say.

According to the port, “reliability and peace and quiet” are crucial to the port’s international clients, adding that the employers and the port authority are willing to give their employees a long-term employment guarantee.


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