Dockers’ action in Belgium leads to reprieve on five-point plan

Targeted industrial action by dockers in Belgium over employers’ inclusion of a controversial “five-point plan” in bargaining negotiations has won an agreement to put the proposal on hold.

The workers represented by two ITF-affiliated unions – ACV-Transporten Communicatie and the Belgische Transportarbeidersbond (BTB) – and the trade union federation, Algemene Centrale van Liberale Vakbonden van België, took part in stoppages on 8 June. Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge were affected.The dock workers were in dispute over port employers’ insistence on including a five-point plan in the workers’ collective bargaining negotiations for 2009/2010. The plan includes provisions to: hire workers several times a day, rather than for every shift; change the functions of some dock workers so that they no longer have “registered docker” status; reduce docker-specific social security allowances when work is not available and cut weekend and night-time working allowances. The plan would seriously impact on the dockers’ working conditions, as the employers attempt to force workers to bear the brunt of the economic crisis.

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