Thursday, 18 December 2008

Dockers in protest over liberalisation of port services

Thousands of dock workers have gathered in Strasbourg at the weekend to march on 16 January against a draft EU directive to liberalise port services. MEPs are divided over whether to reject or modify the proposal.

A divided European Parliament is gearing up for a vote in Strasbourg on 18 January over a proposal to liberalise port services in the EU. The proposal has attracted additional controversy as fears of excessive economic liberalism were cited as one of the main reasons that led French people to reject the draft EU Constitution in May last year.

Unions say they have mobilised 6,000 dock workers in the French city at the weekend for a mass demonstration on 16 January aimed at pressuring MEPs to reject the text. The European Transport Workers' Federation says the proposal "could dramatically affect European port operators and investments in the sector" and eventually lead to job cuts. "No one can ignore the impact that deregulatory proposals will have on jobs, working conditions, health and safety and the quality of port services in Europe," the Union says.

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