Port Services Plan Risks Safety Warns MEP

23 January 2006
Controversial plans from the European Commission to open up the port services market and allow ships crews to act as dockers have been criticised by Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith.

The plans will be voted on by the European Parliament in Strasbourg next week. There will also be a protest in Strasbourg by 4000 dockers from around Europe against the Commission's plans. A previous Commission proposal was rejected in 2003 by 20 votes inthe European Parliament, there has been little change and the newproposal has raised safety concerns across Europe.

Speaking ahead of next week's crucial vote Mr Smith said

"The Commission's plans strike me as potentially dangerous. These proposals will put dock workers at risk and lower standards at portsacross Europe, including those in Scotland.

"Ports here are opposed to the plans, dockers are opposed to theplans, they should not be allowed to go ahead.

"By opening up port services the Commission will be allowing peoplewho are not properly trained to carry out unrestricted loading, reducing the high safety standards that operate in Scottish ports asships crews will be able to load and unload their own cargos.

"Dockers are trained to ensure their work is safe, that health andsafety standards are respected and that cargo is handled safely. This proposal not only risks the safety of people in the ports, it also risks their jobs as cheaper labour could be brought in with each ship to do the work."

"I sincerely hope the Parliament will again defeat this proposal andkill it off once and for all."