Ports Directive unworkable, will lead to more unrest

1 October 2003

Ports Directive unworkable, will lead to more unrest

The compromise between the European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers over the liberalisation of port services is unworkable, according to SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer. "This plan will lead to still more unrest in European ports," Mr Meijer said.

On September 29th, thousands of European dockers struck and demonstrated against the "Port Package" in Rotterdam. Erik Meijer and SP-chairman Jan Marijnissen were present to support the dockers.

The European Parliament decided earlier in the year, under pressure from actions by port workers, to hold back from support for "self-handling", i.e. allowing work to be done by unqualified people. Parliament added a compulsory permit requirement and demanded that portwork be protected by strong national laws.

Erik Meijer, who participated in the negotiations as part of the European Parliament delegation, expressed disappointment over the agreement reached. "Precisely the points which were forced on to the agenda by the earlier actions and political pressure, have been thrown out as part of this compromise, which will become a continual course of conflict. Industrial strife, which we had a foretaste of in Rotterdam on Monday, will grow, because people’s livelihoods are being seriously threatened.

The agreement will now go before the whole European Parliament which, later in the year, will take a definitive decision. Meijer would like to see the majority vote against this unworkable proposal. It that happened, the whole Directive would be thrown out. This is not impossible, as the Parliament appears to be split down the middle.

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