Belgium -Dock workers strike to protect professional status -January 27, 2012

A particular role in the Belgian national strike was played by the dock workers. They had a walk-out for 24 hours not only in protest of the austerity policies but also in defense of their professional status. At Europe's second busiest port, Antwerp, all container and some bulk cargo terminals were shut, with shipping traffic suffering delays due to suspended port services. Under Belgian law only workers who are registered can carry out dockers’ work but plans have now been announced to “modernise” the organisation of labour in ports. When pressed, the government has failed to define exactly what is meant by this and unions are concerned that the status of dockers and the legal protection of their jobs could be undermined. In addition, there is widespread feeling amongst union reps that meetings with employers over the terms of collective agreements for dock workers have not resulted in satisfactory outcomes.

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This article was published in the Collective Bargaining Newsletter. It aims to facilitate information exchange between trade unions and to support the work of ETUC's collective bargaining committee. For more information, please contact the editor Maarten van Klaveren, Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Labour Studies (AIAS) or the communications officer of the ETUI, Mariya Nikolova You may find further information on the ETUI at, and on the AIAS at © ETUI aisbl, Brussels 2012.

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