“Fully trained ship crews at many European ports routinely undertake container lashing, working within strict safety guidelines,” said Patrick van de Ven, founding partner of Venturn, a maritime and logistics consultancy firm based in Rotterdam. “They are familiar with the ship and its Cargo Securing Manuals and have a vested interest in ensuring that cargo is safely secured on the vessel they live on.”
The amended “Dockers’ Clause” is the result of a five-year ITF campaign on “reclaiming lashing for dockworkers” which became part of a recent International Bargaining Forum (IBF) agreement between an International Maritime Employment Council (IMEC) negotiating group and the ITF. The Dockers’ Clause applies to IMEC-member crewing agents as from 1 January 2020.
The owner group believes that shortsea and feeder views were not fully represented by negotiators and has sought advice to challenge the legality of the amended Dockers’ Clause under EU law. While agreements made by IMEC are often adopted more widely, employers and crewing agencies are fully entitled to operate outside
According to the text of the new ‘Dockers’ Clause’, if dockers aren’t available to lash containers the ITF will still require crewing agencies to seek the permission of dock unions to do the work and prove that individual seafarers have volunteered.
The Dutch Union FNV Havens has been especially vocal in its support for the ITF position. As well as creating new job roles for its union members, the proposed change would have the effect of creating a lashing company monopoly in Rotterdam, even though Europe’s largest container port operates under a local harbour decree (Sjorverordening) allowing lashing by crews.
Given that ITF is not seeking to stop seafarers lashing containers altogether but only to be first in the queue when lashing jobs come up, short-sea and feeder ship interests have come to view the campaign as about job creation for dock workers rather than safety.