MEP claims ports jobs are safe

By Danielle NuttallTHOUSANDS of port jobs in Harwich and Felixstowe are no longer under threat after a plan to contract out some services was amended, it has been claimed.

By Danielle Nuttall

THOUSANDS of port jobs in Harwich and Felixstowe are no longer under threat after a plan to contract out some services was amended, it has been claimed.

The new legislation put forward by the European Parliament would have forced some ports to open many internal services to competition, including quayside loading and uploading operations, warehousing and rail services.

At yesterday's European Parliament vote on the EU's Access to Ports Directive, moves to defeat the proposed law to contract out failed by 391 votes to 141.


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But Labour MEP Richard Howitt said amendments to the new legislation meant jobs at both Harwich and Felixstowe ports, which employ about 2,900 people, were safe.

“The European Parliament has in effect made this legislation unworkable by ensuring port staff will be protected for 36 years -meaning no dock worker today need fear for his or her job,” he added.

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“Trade unions will still rightly be concerned that the concept of self-handling by non-dock workers is to be introduced in European law.

“Nevertheless, our vote requires that any unloading be carried out not by stevedores working under foreign flags of convenience, but by properly-trained EU seafarers with local knowledge and fully protected by employment rights and environmental protection laws.

“Put together with our requirement that new rules have to be brought in for full compensation if services are transferred and to regulate unfair subsidies to foreign ports, I know the local port owners will be satisfied that the European Parliament has done its job.”

Mr Howitt said he would be calling for negotiators to stick rigidly to yesterday's outcome to avoid any further threat to jobs or safety in ports.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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