First blood: Antwerp dockers

wdrb@siva.bris.ac.uk
Mon, 20 Jan 1997 09:45:40 -0800


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First Blood

Antwerp dockers have drawn first blood in the runup to next week's international dockers' action, with a 7 hour boycott of ACL's "Atlantic Compass" from 11pm Wednesday 15/1 to 6am Thursday morning. The ship plies a regular route connecting the US east coast with Europe via Liverpool, where ACL has long been seen as the "Jewel in the Crown" for Mersey Docks.

The Antwerp hold-up reflects the decision by the International Transportworkers Federation to throw its weight behind next week's boycott. Liverpool dockers have paid 4 visits to Antwerp and the port featured in the Ken Loach BBC documentary in December, but last night was the first such industrial solidarity by Belgian dockers and their union, the BTB, since the Liverpool dockers were sacked in September 1995. The Port held its own strike against privatisation on 9 December.

Further events are intended in Belgium beginning with a demonstration at the British Embassy in Brussels on Monday coinciding with the International Day of Action.

Rotterdam dockers are also expected to take industrial action next week. In Montreal, the Syndicat des Debardeurs will hold a mass meeting of longshoremen on Monday while in the Canadian Port of St John their colleagues will stop work.

In New Zealand, the Port of Auckland will be reduced to a skeleton crew as workers exercise their right to a "picnic day" on Monday.

And in Sydney harbour, the Maritime Union of Australia is targeting Zim line, who also face action by the Federation of Transport, Petrol and Agricultural Workers in Cyprus. Other world-wide actions previously reported by LabourNet are still scheduled for next week.

LabourNet Report by Greg Dropkin http://www.labournet.org.uk

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