Transport workers to protest at Wimbledon warm up

22/06/2012

The Eastbourne tennis tournament, a traditional warm up for the Wimbledon Championships, will provide the backdrop to a protest by Dutch dock workers.

Today at 17:30, a press conference will provide details of the Dutch dockers’ situation and the planned protest to be held tomorrow, Saturday 23rd June, at the AEGON International Tennis Tournament held in Eastbourne.

The leading speaker will be Niek Stam of the FNV Bondgenoten trade union, and chair of the SBPVH advocacy foundation, who will fight for the return of pension money. The protesters believe they are owed a total of £715 million, which they say has been taken from the intended beneficiaries.

Stam will be supported by members of the RMT and Unite trade unions, along with Frank Leys, secretary of the dockers’ section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation.

The reason for the location of the planned protests is to target insurance giant AEGON, who are the sponsors of the tennis tournament. AEGON is headquartered in The Hague and took over the sponsorship of the event from Stella Artois and also sponsors Dutch football giant Ajax. The protests are a joint campaign by the employers and employees of the seaports community in the Netherlands.

A number of unions representing workers from the major airline alliances are also meeting this week in Argentina to share information and develop strategic responses to developments by freight and passenger carriers in the industry.

Issues covered will include the implications of the proposed LAN-TAM merger on Oneworld Alliance workers and the situation at Turkish Airlines, which has raised serious concern among Star Alliance unions.

During the meetings in Argentina, the One World Labour Council will also launch a new film and webpage. The One World of Labour Council is the coalition of unions formed last year to represent workers at Oneworld Alliance airlines.

The newly launched webpage and short film entitled ‘One World, One Voice: How global unions tackle aviation alliances’, are the latest campaigning tools in the Council’s ongoing mission to help those working for Oneworld to pool their experiences and ensure that their voices are heard in their own workplaces and further afield.

IAM transportation general vice president, Sito Pantoja, who is chairing the meeting, said,

“This annual gathering is important to ensure that those who work in alliance member airlines is as coordinated and informed as their employers. This cooperation goes beyond information sharing and seeks to enhance our practical solidarity capacity to support our members around the world. On that note, the Star Alliance unions will be watching the situation in Turkey closely. We hope that sense will prevail, that the dismissed workers will be reinstated, and that a constructive dialogue with the union on the new labour law will start immediately.”

The concerns over falling standards for their members has increased from unions as more airlines choose to employ closer ties with former rivals in a bid to reduce costs. It is common for companies to employ staff who are members of different unions and sometimes there are no unions involved. This produces concerns that if the coalitions are seen as new operations the employers start their labour negotiations with a clean sheet or with the terms of the poorest served staff given primacy.

Gabriel Mocho, ITF civil aviation section secretary spoke of the One World of Labour Council initiative, saying,

“One of our primary aims is to ensure that workers in this alliance are internationally informed and involved, and this meeting, and, in particular this new web presence and film, are a step forward in doing that. They are an open invitation to everyone working in Oneworld to find out more and participate. The Council’s activities are also about democracy building and have, from the first, been accompanied by an offer of constructive partnership management.”

“One of our primary aims is to ensure that workers in this alliance are internationally informed and involved, and this meeting, and, in particular this new web presence and film, are a step forward in doing that. They are an open invitation to everyone working in Oneworld to find out more and participate. The Council’s activities are also about democracy building and have, from the first, been accompanied by an offer of constructive partnership with management. ”

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