SHIPS embarking from Peel Ports in Dublin could find it difficult to unload their cargo after a delegation of international marine unions vowed to mount an international campaign of action against the company.
On the third day of an international dockers conference in Cork yesterday, 55 delegates from across the world unanimously backed a motion condemning Peel Ports, the new owner of the Marine Terminals (MTL).
The MTL workers claim Peel Ports are trying to replace the existing workforce with lower-paid, non-unionised employees and force others to sign new contracts and take 14%-18% pay cuts. It has also brought in, what unions say, are “scab” strike-breakers.
“Whatever is physically achievable in the next days and weeks will be initiated (by the international marine unions) against the company,” said Ken Fleming of the Irish and British division of the International Transport Federation. “That will involve the possible refusal to handle ships which have come from Peel Ports in Dublin. That will particularly happen in the likes of Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain.”
Mr Fleming also criticised the response of the Government. “It is incredible that the Tánaiste has not taken an interest in this as it is her own state procedures that this company is turning the two fingers to, even though the State’s industrial relations bodies have issued invitations in writing to it.”
Paddy Crumlin, president of the Marine Union of Australia, confirmed the support for the workers.
“What is happening in Dublin equates to entrepreneurial excess and it is clear that there is an individual who is prepared to use the existing climate to his own self advancement. He is not bargaining in good faith and is basically aligning himself with the worst practice of multi-stakeholder development. International dockers are not going to accept that. The only thing that is acceptable is for these people in Dublin to come back to the table to sit down and negotiate in good faith. If they are not prepared to do that, the international dockworkers movement will be prepared to do something about it.
“If it is allowed to happen here in Ireland it will be seen as acceptable in every port around the world.
“The Irish Government needs to intervene urgently because all a lack of action by it will demonstrate is that Ireland has not got the capacity to work its way through the crisis in a way which is supportive of its workforce. Many of workers now being flown in from all over the place and employed there are replacing longstanding Irish dockworkers whose families rely on those jobs to secure their economic future. To accept that is rubbestamping worst practice.”
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