Ten years after the Scandinavian Star and Estonia disasters, trade unions from across Europe will launch a campaign for fair and safe ferries for all at a specially convened conference in Kingston upon Hull, England, today, that will then feed into a fair ferries week of action at selected European ferry ports from 27 to 30 September.
The conference will take place at the home of Hull City FC, the KC Stadium, Hull, The Circle, Walton Street, Hull, HU3 6HU (www.kcstadium.co.uk) and a press conference will be held at 12:30.
Campaign coordinator Norrie McVicar explained: “The launch of this campaign reflects the frustration of 10 wasted years since the European Commission proposed a directive for passenger services that would have guaranteed equal working rights and conditions for EU and non-EU crews, and addressed safety concerns raised by the employment of multilingual and multinational crews. That proposed directive was quashed after intensive lobbying by shipowners.”
“The result,” he continued, “has been a decade of job losses, with long-serving crews cut and then cut again, to be replaced, if at all, with cheaper non-EU personnel, many of whom are now even being encouraged to carry out cargo handling work that has always been the preserve of safety-trained dockers.”
As well as planning the forthcoming week of action, the conference will look at ways to reinforce the ‘social dialogue’ process, with the aim of achieving a level playing field of conditions on intra-EU routes; focus on ‘social dumping’ (undercutting of existing, skilled workforce); and question ferry companies alleged to be carrying out cargo lashing (cargo stowage/fastening) on board by seafarers, rather than by dockers on shore.
The week of action will include ship visits to check working conditions and leafleting of the travelling public to explain the campaign.