Dock workers in port liberalisation protest
16 January 2006
BRUSSELS — Belgian ports were to grind to a standstill on Monday as 3,000 dock workers prepared to join a demonstration in Strasbourg with European colleagues in protest against EU liberalisation plans.
No containers were to be processed at Belgian ports on Monday: “No ships will be loaded or unloaded,” the ACV union’s port spokeswoman, Myriam Chaffart, said. “It is a general strike”.
Other European ports will also grind to a standstill as workers gather in Strasbourg for the joint demonstration.
Some 3,000 Belgian dock workers departed on Monday morning for the French city, where the European Parliament is scheduled to discuss the liberalisation plans.
Chaffart said 2,000 dock workers from Antwerp, 500 from Zeebrugge, 370 from Ghent and 50 from Brussels will participate in the protest. In total, between 9,000 and 10,000 people work on the Belgian ports.
Between 7,000 and 8,000 European dock workers are expected to join the demonstration in Strasbourg.
The European Commission has been trying since 1997 to draw up guidelines to create a level playing field governing competition between European ports.
The guidelines are designed to liberalise the provision of port services, but unions are fiercely opposed to the plans.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news