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Home News Maritime unions support German dockers' strike over inflation

Maritime unions support German dockers’ strike over inflation

Leaders of shipping unions gathered in London expressed their solidarity with Germany's 12,000 dock workers for their recent strike.

The German subsidiary of the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), ver.di is pushing for an annual, automatic inflation adjustment to be built into a renewed collective agreement with 58 ports and terminals.

“Rising prices for essential living expenses such as energy and food have become an unsustainable burden on German workers, especially for those lower paid workers,” said head of ver.di’s Maritime Section, Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth.

She said the employers, represented by the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS), have so far rejected the principle of inflation protection in talks with the union.

“These port companies plan to leave their staff alone to deal with the consequences of rising prices. They are willing to see dockers’ wages go backward, eaten away by inflation. We cannot accept this, especially after all that dock workers have done for the employers and the common good,” she pointed out.

“Throughout the pandemic, dock workers have shown extraordinary commitment to their employers and to the German economy. For more than two years they have put up with family-impacting flexible work schedules, longer working hours, and rising workloads. Under all this pressure, dock workers have sacrificed,” said Schwiegershausen-Güth.

“All of the employers and politicians who heaped praise on key workers during the pandemic should now be vocal in supporting our claim for fair inflation protection. Appreciation without renumeration is meaningless – nice words will not pay the rent,” she added.

ITF Dockers' Section vice-chair Niek Stam said ITF and ETF dockers’ unions representing more than 500,000 workers were united in their support for ver.di as it sought a higher pay deal.

Stam, who is also the leader of the Dutch dock workers' union FNV Havens, said automatic inflation adjustment mechanisms had existed for decades in competitive port agreements, such as those in Rotterdam and Antwerp.

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