Rotterdam unions, employers reach deal on job security 

Dutch dockers’ unions FNV Havens and CNV Vakmensen concluded an agreement with the Rotterdam Port Authority and the container terminals over job security in the port’s container sector, according to European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).

The negotiations, which lasted for more than a year, had been initiated further to the wake-up call from the unions on the need to prevent the imminent loss of jobs in Rotterdam’s container terminal, due to increasing automation and overcapacity.

“We still regret the way port expansion was dealt with, denying dialogue with the unions over the impact that additional capacity and automation would have on workers. However, we are proud to have been able to reach this agreement. We had to fight hard. Negotiations were lengthy and complicated but in the end we managed to reach a compromise on the most important concerns for the workers,” FNV Havens’ Secretary, Niek Stam, said.

The agreement ensures that port workers with a permanent employment contract on January 1, 2015 are guaranteed job security until June 2020.

Pre-retirement schemes have been agreed upon, and mechanisms to ease the exchange of workers among the terminals will also be implemented.

Additionally, the agreement includes measures to prevent the dismissal of the workers of Rotterdam Port Services (RPS), a labour pool employing 121 dockers.

During the negotiations, talks were also held on the need to align lashing requirements to those of the neighbouring countries and make sure that all lashing is done by dockers, also on small ships.

“We aimed for negotiating solutions for the whole container sector, not just for one company. Notwithstanding the attempts to jeopardise a sectoral agreement and divide workers, we have managed to find solutions applicable to the whole sector,” Stam said.

The announcement follows a series of failed talks between the Port of Rotterdam and the trade unions, which resulted in a 24-hour industrial action on January 7.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority and the trade unions soon returned to the negotiating table to hold exploratory talks with both the unions and the employers with the aim of avoiding further industrial action at the port.

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