Dock protestors target Barking-based business in working conditions dispute
PUBLISHED: 14:11 07 August 2014 | UPDATED: 16:34 07 August 2014
Dockworkers are today protesting over conditions for workers at Britain’s newest port.
The demo was held outside the office of shipping company Hapag-Lloyd in Cambridge Road, a customer of Dubai-based DP World which owns the London Gateway Port in Thurrock and is the focus of the dispute.
Members of the International Dockworkers Council claim the firm refuses to acknowledge unions and offers lower wages under tougher working conditions that will damage the industry as a whole.
“They are creating a downward spiral,” shop steward Dave Campbell told the Post. “Everybody loses because it just drives everyone downwards.”
He said people were “desperate for work” and so would accept the inferior conditions he fears would cause rival ports across the south east, including at Tilbury and Southampton, to adopt similar practices in a bid to stay competitive.
“We are trying to get these people union recognition and get their terms and conditions up but they won’t recognise us,” Mr Campbell added.
“We are targeting their customers to remind them exactly who they are dealing with and what kind of a company they are.”
DP World has also been blasted by the dockworkers council, which is the umbrella organisation for a number of individual unions within the industry, over the number of jobs at the new port in Stanford-Le-Hope that opened in November last year.
It claims only a few hundred jobs, not the few thousand promised, have been created.
A DP World spokesperson said: “We haven’t refused to recognise the union. We are pro choice, we believe people should make the choice to be represented by a union themselves. If they want recognition they can have it.”
He added more as many as 400 jobs had been created already at the port with 50 more to come in the following weeks. Once the port was fully developed – as yet only two of its six berths have opened – he said job creation would reach about 2,000.
Another 10,000 jobs are expected to be created when the nascent London Gateway Logisitcs Park is completed, he said, adding at least £2 million had been invested into the surrounding area.
A spokesman for Hapag-Lloyd said: “We are aware that there was a small group of protesters outside our barking office and it concerned one of the ports we are using in the UK. Other than that, we have no further information or comment.”