ABOUT 600 protesters blocked operations in and around Dublin Port for three hours yesterday in an escalation of the eight-week long protest at Marine Terminals (MTL).
Marchers held mass meetings around Marine Terminals’ offices and some even entered its operations and occupied the company’s containers.
Workers at MTL claim its new owners, Peel Ports, are trying to replace the existing workforce with lower paid, non-unionised employees.
According to staff union SIPTU, the company made a number of the staff compulsorily redundant at the start of July, asked others to take voluntary redundancy and told the remaining staff they would have to sign new contracts and take 14%-18% pay cuts.
After the staff mounted pickets on July 3, the company brought in staff from other operations to carry out their functions, a move which the union says is strike-breaking by “scab workers”.
The staff on the picket have received international support from their fellow trade unionists in Britain.
The company has defended what it sees as “efficiencies”, which it is trying to introduce by pointing out the reduction in demand. It says the salaries enjoyed by MTL’s port operatives – up to €75,000 for a crane operator – are way above their counterparts elsewhere in the Port of Dublin and in the industry generally. It also says it has offered redundancy terms which are four times the norm. It also says operations are running smoothly at the terminal with the striking workers outside the door.
The International Transport Federation said the company should enter into the third-party resolution process.
“We got involved in this because the company has refused to utilise the dispute resolution procedures of the State,” said Ken Fleming of the ITF. “Our only role in this is to see that take place and if the company come to their senses and enter into meaningful negotiations with a view to addressing grievances under the third party’s auspices, we will be happy.”
Peter Bunting, leader of the ICTU in the North threatened to name and shame the workers from operations in Belfast who had been brought in to cover the roles of the striking workers and Mr Fleming said he is leading a delegation to Greenock in Scotland later this week to identify the 10 workers who had been drafted in from there to their colleagues in the industry.
Also yesterday, there was a three-hour stoppage in Rotterdam in support of the MTL workers.
SITPU claims the company has begun posting P45 forms to the strikers.
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