ITF's international campaign to organise stevedoring player ICTSI has escalated over the past two weeks with a series of lawful demonstrations and actions occurring worldwide in a renewed international push against injustice in the company's global terminal network.
ITF affiliate unions held protest actions across 14 locations spanning Africa, Europe and Asia directly targeting existing ICTSI ports, ports where ICTSI is seeking to expand, and ports which share critical shipping connections with ICTSI ports.
ICTSI remains one of the fastest growing container terminal operator in the world, and has rapidly developed a disturbing reputation for labour rights violations, predatory corporate practices, abuses of local law, and unacceptable health and safety standards.
Cape Town, ICTSI Head Office
Africa is the key expansion market for ICTSI and a critical battlefront in the ITF campaign. ITF partnered with iconic African affiliate SATAWU, and were joined by COSATU including Provincial Secretary Tony Ehrenreich, to deliver a fierce welcome to Africa. SATAWU delivered a memorandum against ICTSI's pattern of labour violations to the company.
Durban, Africa Ports Ministers Conference
At the African Ports Evolution conference held in Durban, SATAWU delivered a demonstration outside the conference centre, while ITF campaigners inside the conference lobbied African Ministers and government representatives. Actions inside and outside the conference warned governments of ICTSI's emerging patterns of labour violations. The demonstration also directly called on the Madagascan Government to reinstate Malagasy 43 and end the dispute at the Port of Toamasina.
Despite a prohibition on public gatherings due to an outbreak of bubonic plague, SYGMMA held a protest at the ICTSI Port of Toamasina. Madagascar has been a major centre of action in the campaign. Dock workers in Madagascar demanded that the government take all necessary steps to reinstate 43 dock workers sacked and allow SYGMMA to organise for all workers at the Port of Toamasina.
Dock workers’ union FBTPI held a protest at the gates of the Port of Jakarta to commence the week of actions in conjunction with a LabourStart campaign demanding that ICTSI pay fair wages and stop targeting union members in Jakarta.
Port Moresby and Lae, Papua New Guinea
ICTSI’s attempt to expand into Papua New Guinea has been met with fierce resistance from the PNG Maritime and Transport Workers Union and local landowner groups. The union and landholder groups held demonstrations at ports in Port Moresby and Lae. The demonstrations generated significant media coverage in PNG, highlighted by coverage through ABC Australia’s radio network both across the Pacific and Australia.
Netherlands, Germany, Belgium
Solidarity from European dockers unions played a critical role in the escalation, due to both their leading role in the ITF and their significance to global trade. Rotterdam, Netherlands; Antwerp, Belgium; and Duisburg and Hamburg, Germany, all share shipping connections with ICTSI ports. FNV, BTB and ver.di delivered actions, and delivered strong statements of solidarity.
The action in the ICTSI Port of Batumi on the Black Sea stood out thanks to the 3x9 metre banner erected in the terminal. The demonstration in Georgia was a joint effort between the Georgian Seafarers Union and the Batumi Seaport Union.
ITF has been working with affiliate Solidanosc to support the union's efforts in both Baltic Container Terminal (ICTSI) and Gdynia Container Terminal (Hutchison) which share a quay in the Port of Gdynia. Solidanosc has made a strong statement of support and is understood to be organising an action.