Europe Votes On Docker's Future

23 January 2006

MEPs will tomorrow (Wednesday) vote on proposals to open up Scottish and other European ports to competition for services, including allowing ships crews to act as Dockers for their own cargo.

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has today urged all MEPs to oppose the proposalsand kill the idea off once and for all. MEPs previously defeated theplans from the European Commission in 2003. The proposals risk the safety and security of ports and port workers,as well as threatening the future employment of skilled and trained Dockers.

Speaking from Strasbourg, where a rally of European dock workers istaking place Mr Smith said

"I hope to see all Scottish MEPs in Strasbourg this week, and I hope they will all oppose this proposal. It is dangerous and should never have been reintroduced. It is important not only that it is defeated, but that MEPs show there is absolutely no appetite for this move. I want to see all 7 Scots vote no."

"Scottish ports and Scottish jobs all over the country are at riskfrom this. If the plans go ahead ships crews will be able to loadand unload their cargo, making Dockers redundant.

"If ships crews, who are often low-wage and unlikely to be trained as Dockers, are allowed to do this we would be putting both safety andsecurity at risk."

"The events of yesterday in Strasbourg were unfortunate. I believe the majority of dock workers came to Strasbourg to hold a peacefulprotest and to lobby their MEPs. I do not condone the actions ofthose who became violent.

"Aside from effecting the Dockers, services at all ports will haveto be tendered, even those that are privately owned, that puts jobs,security and safety at risk across the whole industry. The Dockers don't want it, the ports don't want it. Let's make sure it doesn't happen."