Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Zero hours contracts at Tilbury docks at the centre of 48-hour stoppage

Zero hours contracts at Tilbury docks at the centre of 48-hour stoppage

27 May 2014  

Dock workers go on strike over zero hour contract threat

Thurrock Gazette: Dock workers go on strike over zero hour contract threatDock workers go on strike over zero hour contract threat
WORKERS at the Port of Tilbury went on strike over plans by a Swedish firm to introduce zero hour contracts.
The two-day strike by port workers represented by union Unite, which stared today, only hit ships serviced by Swedish-owned SCA Logistics, whose UK base is at the port.
Unite is fearful that the 24-strong permanent workforce at the firm could be replaced by lower paid agency, or casual, workers on zero hours contracts.
Jane Jeffery, Unite regional officer, said: “If this is allowed to happen, we will be turning the clock back 50 years to the bad old days when you had to rely on the tap on the shoulder to see if you had work for the day in the docks.
“Only today, the call will come on your mobile – but the culture will be the same, low-waged and insecure employment. Wages could drop substantially, while the cost of living continues to rise.”
An agreement is currently in place at the firm allowing for a certain percentage of agency workers to be used.
But Unite claim this is being undermined by the ongoing replacement of permanent trained dockers, who currently number about 24, by even more agency and casual staff.
Ms Jeffery added: “It seems that the management of SCA Logistics is hell-bent on antagonising and prolonging the dispute, instead of reaching a settlement through discussion and negotiation.”
A move by the hardline management of SCA Logistics, based at Tilbury docks, to drive down wages by introducing zero hours contracts, has provoked a two day strike.

The dockers, members of Unite, the country’s largest union, started a 48-hour stoppage at 06.00 today (Tuesday 27 May) in the dispute which the union fears could see the permanent workforce being replaced by lower paid agency/casual workers on zero hours contracts.

Unite regional officer Jane Jeffery said: “If this is allowed to happen, we will be turning the clock back 50 years to the bad old days when you had to rely on the tap on the shoulder to see if you had work for the day in the docks.

“Only today, the call will come on your mobile – but the culture will be the same, low waged and insecure employment. Wages could drop substantially, while the cost of living continues to rise.”

Unite said that a collective agreement is in place which allowed a certain percentage of agency workers, but this was being severely undermined  by the ongoing replacement of permanent trained dockers, who number about 24, by even more agency/casual staff.

Jane Jeffery said: “Although the action is for 48-hours, our members are being denied overtime and prevented from booking holidays. Agency labour is being used to cover their duties and working 14 hour days in order to do so.

“It seems that the management of the Swedish-owned SCA Logistics is hell-bent on antagonising and prolonging the dispute, instead of reaching a settlement through discussion and negotiation.

“Unite will strongly resist the very real threat of the workforce at this company becoming 100 per cent employed on zero hours contracts.”

The strike will only hit vessels being serviced by SCA Logistics at Tilbury.

ENDS

For further information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940and/or the Unite press office on 020 3371 2065.

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org

•    Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

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