Friday, November 1, 2013

Intermodal Boycott as Proposal to Take Freight Handling Away from Dockworkers Threatened

Norwegian Unions Request Cargo Vessels Divert Elsewhere
Shipping News Feature

NORWAY – The country’s maritime unions today called for the crew of all vessels headed for Risavika, the intermodal terminal adjacent to Stavanger, one of Norway’s main energy centres, to boycott the harbour and divert their ships elsewhere. The request comes as shore staff began a boycott of the freight terminal following the reported refusal of management to sign up to the national Norwegian agreement covering dockworkers. The dispute has been backed by the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) after it received news that the employer, Risavika Terminal AS, is said to be proposing to use seafarers to carry out cargo handling duties.

The ITF has issued a statement condemning the intentions of the company which are in direct contravention of the ITF dockers clause saying that all ITF agreements contain the dockers clause, which stipulates that, on vessels covered by the agreement, neither the ship's crew nor anyone else on board shall carry out cargo handling work traditionally or historically done by dockworkers. Cargo handling must be done by professional dockworkers who have the relevant skills and training to be efficient and safe in this role.

The ITF says it finds the intentions of management to violate the dockers clause in this way totally unacceptable and agrees with the NTF's assessment that this is a blatant attempt to cut costs and maximise profits in a move which poses a great risk to health and safety standards as well as trade union rights. ITF dockers section chair Paddy Crumlin said:

"We are behind the dockers of Norway 100%. They are taking action because they have been left no other choice. This is a long running dispute at the heart of which is the company's lack of respect for dock work as a profession and its willingness to put lives at risk by allowing those without the proper training and experience to do a job which is skilled and dangerous. That's something that we just can't stand back and accept."