Trade Unions Support Portuguese Dockers in Their Fight

zoomIllustration. Image Courtesy: Pexels under CC0 Creative Commons license

The trade unions International Transport Workers’ Federation, European Transport Workers’ Federation and German ver.di are teaming up to support Portuguese dockers in their fighting against precarious work.

According to the ETF, the majority of dockers working at the Portuguese port of Setubal have not benefited from a permanent employment contract for the last twenty years.

“They are hired for a single shift and do not benefit from basic rights such as protection in cases of sickness or injury, even if caused by an accident at work,” ETF said, adding that, last week, the vessel Paglia was loaded by scabs who entered the terminal escorted by the police while the dockers were taking industrial action.

With the German port of Emden being the next port call of the vessel Paglia, ETF/ITF German affiliated union ver.di “did not hesitate to use its industrial strength to support the Portuguese dockers.”

It also used its political power to try and influence the resolution of the conflict. On November 28, the works councils of Emden Autoterminal and Volkswagen’s local factory have jointly called for a workers’ assembly and have encouraged all workers to attend.

“The fight against precarious working conditions has always been at the heart of the dockers unions’ action globally. It is appalling that in 2018 some employers keep using the same old strategies to weaken working people and their unions,” Thomas Mendrzik, chair of ver.di maritime section, said.

“This is an emblematic struggle, as it is about basic trade unionism: workers fighting for fair working conditions. We are proud to give our support to the brave Portuguese dockers,” Torsten Schut, chair of works council at the car terminal EVAG, one of the shareholders of Autoport, said.