Dubai-based port operator DP World is facing international trade union action over its treatment of workers around the world.
Officials from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) representing dock workers voted this week to organise a global campaign to pressure DP World to engage in negotiations over trade union rights in a number of countries.
A global day of action is being organised for September.
ITF claims DP World is “systematically attempting to undermine the wages and working conditions of workers all over the world by engaging in anti-union behaviour”.
It is calling on DP World to recognise legitimate unions and immediately begin negotiations for collective agreements at London Gateway, Chennai in India and all other DP World terminals.
It also wants the port operator to consult with unions over its automation plans and to make “a genuine attempt to prevent job losses”.
The world's third-largest port operator manages ports in places including Dubai’s Jebel Ali, London, Brisbane, Peru and India.
In London, ITF alleges DP World is refusing to enter into meaningful negotiations with local dockers’ union Unite, and will not sign a collective agreement to cover new workers being hired at its London Gateway Terminal.
“What we’re seeing at London Gateway is a rejection of the worker’s choice,” Steve Biggs, from Unite, said.
“This is not the way we expect, or can allow, an employer to behave in the 21st century.”
Workers in Brisbane claim they are dealing with issues of representation, job losses, contracting out, casualisation and a possible cut in working conditions.
ITF president Paddy Crumlin said: “We have called on ITF dockers’ and seafarers’ unions to make action ready which will force DPW back to the negotiating table over London Gateway in particular.
“Our unions have been open to dialogue throughout these disputes and where that is being reciprocated we welcome it, but we are not prepared to ignore the cases where DP World looks like it is ignoring its responsibilities to workers.”
ITF claims DP World refuses to recognise Madras Port Trust Employees’ Union, the official union representing workers in Chennai, India, while promoting a “yellow union” entirely controlled by the management of Chennai Container Terminal Ltd, which is owned by DP World.
Also in India, DP World is accused of denying workers at the International Container Transhipment Terminal in Cochin the right of freedom of association.