Unions press for recognition at DP World

UNIONS have raised concerns about union rights at DP World in Stanford-le-Hope.

Unite believes that the apparent refusal by the port’s owners – Dubai-based DP World to recognise the union will mean a “race to the bottom in terms of employment conditions” which could threaten the future viability of the container ports at Felixstowe and Southampton, as well as at Thamesport.

Unite said that union recognition always reinforces health and safety issues – and docks remain one of the most dangerous industries to work in.

The London Gateway is due to open later this year and is already recruiting for the 2,500-strong workforce, the majority of which would be dockers.

Unite regional officer Jane Jeffery said: “We have held a number of meetings with Gateway’s management and they are clear that they will not be recognising a trade union prior to the port opening. We call on them to rethink this stance.

“There is already overcapacity in the UK’s container ports and we believe that this port should not be opened with the current overcapacity nationally.

“The London Gateway is not looking to create new work and there is a very real possibility that the jobs it creates will be lost elsewhere, with the new jobs on inferior terms and conditions.

“Union recognition has proved to be vital in promoting health & safety issues in workplaces across the UK – the fact DP World does not want to recognise Unite does not auger well for health and safety in what remains one of the UK’s most dangerous industries.

DP World has stressed it wants to give employees a choice rather than prescribing membership of a particular union.

A spokesperson said: “We have responded that membership of any union, including Unite, would be a free choice matter for London Gateway employees to decide upon and if membership of one or more unions reached the level where recognition was applicable then we would be happy to do so.

“We are very happy to discuss this matter with any party.”

A UNION says it is concerned about wages and working conditions at the new £1.5billion superport.

Unite said the refusal of London Gateway – the new deep-sea container port being built in the Thames estuary – to recognise the union will mean a race to the bottom in terms of employment conditions.

The largest union in the country said recognition will reinforce health and safety issues.

But DP World said it wants to give employees a choice rather than pre-determining membership of a particular union. London Gateway is due to open later this year and is already recruiting for its 2,500-strong workforce.

Jane Jeffery, Unite regional officer, said: “We have held a number of meetings with Gateway’s management and they are clear they will not be recognising a trade union prior to the port opening.

“We call on them to rethink this stance.

“Union recognition has proved to be vital in promoting health and safety issues in workplaces across the UK – the fact DP World does not want to recognise Unite does not auger well in what remains one of the UK’s most dangerous industries.

“This is doubly worrying given that the Government is trying to whittle down health and safety regulations.”

A spokesman for DP World said membership of any union would be down to their employees and it takes health and safety seriously.

He said: “We have responded that membership of any union, including Unite, would be a free choice matter for London Gateway employees to decide upon and if membership of one or more unions reached the level where recognition was applicable then we would be happy to do so.

“In terms of health and safety, DP World puts safety as its number one priority.

“We are not in any way against union membership and we strongly believe in freedom of choice for all staff.

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