Dubai-based port operator DP World has defended its decision not to negotiate with a workers’ union over the London Gateway.
The world's third-largest port operator is facing international trade union action after officials from the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) representing dock workers voted last 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.
A DP World spokesperson denied workers’ rights were being exploited.
“We require our business units to fully respect the rights of our people, including their right to choose whether to join a union or to adopt collective bargaining,” the spokesperson said in a statement to Arabian Business.
“None would pre-empt that right by entering into any sort of unilateral agreement with a union, which is what Unite is demanding at London Gateway.”
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 last week.
“This is not the way we expect, or can allow, an employer to behave in the 21st century.”
DP World manages ports in places including Dubai’s Jebel Ali, London, Brisbane, Peru and India.
Brisbane workers claim they are dealing with issues of representation, job losses, contracting out, casualisation and a possible cut in working conditions.
In Chennai, ITF claims DP World refuses to recognise Madras Port Trust Employees’ Union, the official union representing workers, 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.