Dockers protest against EU directive

12th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 January 2006, BRUSSELS - Belgian dock workers will join their European counterparts in picketing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday, against planned European Union rules aimed at opening up cargo handling.

12 January 2006

BRUSSELS - Belgian dock workers will join their European counterparts in picketing the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Monday, against planned European Union rules aimed at opening up cargo handling.

The demonstration is part of a campaign that included a Europe-wide strike by 40,000 dockers on Wednesday. Dockers at the ports of Antwerp, Ghent, Ostend and Zeebrugge worked four hours less than usual so they could can attend union meetings about the proposed European ports directive.

However, Monday’s protest at Strasbourg will mean there will be a 24 hour dock strike in Flanders to enable the dock workers to attend the demonstration.

The Parliament is due to debate the directive the following day, Tuesday, before voting on it on the Wednesday. The bill would open cargo handling to competition, ending the situation in many European ports in which loading and unloading is run by monopoly handlers.

Supporters say the rules are needed to cut costs, speed deliveries and encourage investment in ports across the EU. But dock worker unions fear it would lead to lost jobs, lower wages and less safety. They want qualified stevedores to continue the dock work, arguing that the job is too specialised to leave to personnel on the docking ships.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news

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