An ongoing labour conflict between the new operator of container shipping in Oslo and the dockers’ union (Transportarbeiderforbundet) hit a new climax this week when 12 harbour workers were arrested by police after they tried to disrupt ship offloading and loading.
The new operator, Yilport of Turkey, refuses to sign a labour agreement with the union and wants to use its own employees. The union has thus tried to boycott Yilport with support from dockers’ unions abroad.
Newspaper Dagsavisen reported that more than half the dockers working for Oslo Losse- og Lastekonto, OLLK, have been fired and OLLK was declared bankrupt. Remaining OLLK workers lost their entrance credentials to the harbour area. The union responded with blockades of the area at Bekkelaget on Oslo’s east side, and police were ultimately called.
“There was a blockade and we summoned the police,” harbour director Anne Sigrid Hamran told Dagsavisen. Yilport doesn’t need the dockers who work highly regulated hours that don’t always coincide with ship arrivals and departures. Yilport wants to use its own workers and those on the ships themselves, to more quickly move vessels in and out of the harbour, saving money for all involved.
The unions and their advocates respond that Yilport and the harbour authorities are guilty of social dumping and union busting. More than 20 harbour workers have been fired and 14 put on furlough. OLLK’s bankruptcy will leave another 35 out of work.