Unions call upon ship operators to return lashing to dock workers

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) call upon ship operators to return lashing to shore-based dock workers. The ITF and ETF are clear that lashing on container ships should be done by dock workers. Ships trading along the European coast are not sufficiently crewed that safety can be assured when burdened by lashing demands.

The unions said demands placed on seafarers by ship operators is unreasonable and does not take into account the requirements for hours of rest. Fatigued crew make mistakes and when containers are not sufficiently lashed accidents happen creating hazards to navigation and to the marine environment and life.

On February 11, the Dutch registered container vessel OOCL Rauma spilled seven containers overboard during a stormy passage from Kotka, Finland, to Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

Shipping intelligence sources indicate that the vessel is operated by Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas Container Lines and owned by JR Shipping BV of the Netherlands. Containers onboard the 1425 TEU ship are often lashed or secured by the ship’s crew in the North European feeder trade. 

On 1 January 2020, new rules contained in shipboard collective agreements came into force in Europe requiring containers to be lashed by shoreside dock workers.

“Vessels that are not properly lashed pose a danger not only to the ship’s crew, but also to the marine environment. Ships these days are already under-crewed and seafarers have enough work getting vessels safely between ports. Fatigue is already a dangerous reality of life on ships,” said Niek Stam, vice-chair of the ITF Dockers’ Section.

“So-called responsible shipowners need to reconsider their actions that put us all to risk. Shipping already suffers from a poor reputation, and incidents like this only harden public opinion. Lashing is dangerous work and should be undertaken by trained dockers.”

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