Members at work

Dockers Clause takes effect amid shipping companies' last-ditch protests

16 January 2020

Efforts by European feeder and shortsea shipping companies to challenge the new 'Dockers Clause' that came into effect at the beginning of 2020 have been condemned by unions, which have set up an international legal taskforce to ensure the clause is globally implemented.

The new agreement was signed in February 2018 by workers' and employers' representatives from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the International Maritime Employers' Council (IMEC). It applies to all ITF approved agreements and took effect worldwide in the same month, with two exceptions: Europe and Canada, which were given until 1 January 2020 to prepare for the new rules.

'Despite this generous arrangement, some companies have refused to uphold the Dockers' Clause,' ITF said. 'Instead of contracting lashing companies, they waited until the clause entered into effect and now claim that enforcement is impossible.'

Dockers unions, shop stewards and legal advisors from ten countries gathered in Rotterdam in early January to reaffirm commitment to the Dockers Clause and create an international team of legal advisors to challenge companies that do not comply.

ITF Dockers' section second vice chair Niek Stam said: 'Trade unions are supporting the new Dockers’ Clause and are ready and willing to defend it. A deal is a deal, and a signature is legally binding.'

Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: 'Seafarers can already be required to work up to 91 hours a week – often leaving them fatigued, stressed and putting pressure on their mental health. To also require them to do work which should only be undertaken by trained and experienced dockers puts them at great risk.'