Rotterdam Workers Vote for Strikes throughout December and January

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday November 26, 2015

Europe's largest port may see delays over the next two months after about 850 container workers at the Port of Rotterdam voted to hold a series of 24-hour strikes throughout December and January to protest possible job cuts, Reuters reports.

The workers are reported to be hoping that the strike action will help achieve their demand for a guarantee of job security over the next nine years in the face of two new highly automated container terminals that are expected to cause 700 out of 4,000 jobs to be cut from the port's container in 2017.

Container employers Europe Container Terminals (ECT), APM Terminals Maasvlakte II B.V. (APMT), and Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) are said to have so far rejected the workers' demand for a layoff freeze in contract talks which have been in progress since April.

"The employers have said that they think that demand is not realistic, something of a different era," said Sjaak Poppe, a Port of Rotterdam spokesperson said of the proposed €53 million ($56.27 million) job security plan.

Niek Stam, a spokesperson for the workers' union, FNV Havens, said that the strike action will most likely be seen through two separate periods of three day strikes - three days in December and three days in January.

"The port will be brought to a standstill," said Stam.

"They're smelling blood. We are on the eve of the exodus of older dockworkers. And now they want to once get rid of the big mouths demanding job security. Well, we won't stand for that."

Poppe says that the first period of strike action is expected between December 9 and 11, but notes that any traffic disruptions will be dependent on the strike's nature.

Earlier in November, the Port of Rotterdam announced that it would be renewing its discount programme for "clean ships," known as the Enivornmental Ship Index (ESI).