Genoa hosted the international dockers meeting against self-handling
ITF and ETF supported Italian trade unions claiming dockers’ exclusive right to lashing and unlashing operations
Genoa – “Lashing and unlashing operations are dockers’ job”.
This is not only the motto of a long-term international campaign brought to Genoa by Italian transports trade unions Filt Cgil, Fit Cisl, Uiltrasporti, it is the essence of the message that Paddy Crumlin – the Australian docker heading ITF’s (International Transport Federation) executive board – personally brought to Genoa with his Italian colleagues, together with Willie Adams from the US, Niek Stam from Holland and other directors such as ETF (European Transport Federation) Secretary General Livia Spera and ITF inspectors coordinator Francesco Di Fiore.
The message was addressed to all shipowners: “Only dockers are authorized to carry out port operations. This was made clear also in an arrangement between ITF and employers added to the renewal of the agreement for seafarers working on ships flying flags of convenience: only where there are no port organizations may seafarers carry out jobs reserved to such organizations. Shipowners must comply with this agreement, otherwise we will be 'ready' in any ports of the globe”, Crumlin warned.
The press conference was organized by trade unions (represented by Natale Colombo, Mario Melchiori and Marco Odone at a national level, and by Enrico Poggio, Davide Traverso and Roberto Gulli locally) shortly after the strike call that was affected by the increase of self-handling of lashing and unlashing operations, as well as by the interruption of negotiations related to the renewal of the Collective Labour Agreement. Filt, Fit and Uiltrasporti trade unions representatives pointed out that self-handling is one of the aggregative phenomena of the maritime supply chain which are dismantling the status quo, “in order to reduce workers’ rights as it has already occurred in land logistics”.
Also the location – in the headquarters of the company CULMV, providing temporary labour in Genoa – was not fortuitous. “We agree with Crumlin. Seafarers must do their job, and dockers must carry out theirs. We are the largest company in Italy, and we will support this campaign. Genoa must set an example, both with regards to trade unions unity and as concerns the Port Authority’s supervisory role”, consul Antonio Benvenuti added referring also to the port management body and to the “long-awaited news about the application of paragraph 15-bis (of Article 17, ed.)”, the rule that, providing for the Port Authority’s support to temporary labour suppliers, would allow CULMV to close its 2018 financial statements with a break even.
“We are not interested in the Regional Administrative Court’s judgements because the lashing issue is too important and it aims at destroying port workers’ unity. The problem is the flexibility of the Italian regulation, Benvenuti concluded referring to the different interpretations of Courts and Port Authorities about self-handling. With a company like CULMV, in Genoa self-handling cannot succeed, but this principle must be applied also to those ports where workers are weaker”, the company’s head pointed out.
On their part, trade unions do not feel the need of a regulatory clarification: “We have the necessary laws; self-handling is allowed only where there is not Article 17 and, however, it must be authorized at each call”, Melchiori explained, urging Port Authorities to supervise and the Italian Government to negotiate with trade unions. His appeal was shared by Colombo, who urged the institutions not to favour “lobbies’ pressures to dismantle the system”.
It is for this reason – trade unions organizations observed – that the strike called for the 23rd will not only aim at protecting our rights against the counterpart within the Collective Labour Agreement, but it will have a wider significance, providing international relief in ITF’s global struggle.