Fight Freeports to stop the workers rights bonfire

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/1143/32860

From The Socialist newspaper, July 28, 2021

The NSSN meeting discussed what free ports mean for workers (Click to enlarge)

Nick Chaffey, Secretary of the Socialist Party of the South

More than 50 trade unionists from unions such as Unite, RMT, PCS, Usdaw and NEU, and representatives from local professional councils in Southampton, Hull and Liverpool met with help from the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) to discuss this what “free ports” mean to workers and how unions should respond.

Rob Williams, Chairman of the NSSN, introducing the meeting stressed the importance of raising awareness on the development of free ports and the danger they represent for workers: “There must be no bonfires of our rights”, a he warned.

On the day of the meeting, Unite signed a major union recognition agreement with XPO-Nestlé on the East Midlands Gateway logistics center which will eventually cover six million square feet of warehousing. This is an overview of the impact of the Tories’ “leveling” agenda in the workplace, as incentives are offered to investors in the form of deregulation and tax breaks.

Dave Williams, executive member of Unite, said: “This is a welcome step in the right direction, but there is a lot at stake in stopping a continuation of the race to the bottom that will weaken and undermine jobs and employment. to come up. ”

Darren Proctor, RMT National Officer for the Navy, spoke of the longstanding race to the bottom that has seen sailor salaries attacked by bosses.

Claire from PCS in the East Midlands explained how deregulation has spread across Europe with 83 free ports already in the European Union. It is not only coastal ports that are targeted, but also hubs like East Midlands Airport, which is now second behind Stanstead in terms of air cargo.

Reeling from a decade of cutbacks in public funding, cash-strapped local councils, including labor councils, are backing these measures, drawn by increased revenue from corporate tariffs, despite the threat that weighs on workers. Evidence already shows that free ports do not create jobs but promote job transfers. The role of labor councils makes this a political issue which must be addressed by the unions.

The meeting was unanimous on the fact that unions must defend all existing national and local agreements. Where current agreements exist with companies like UPS and DHL, unions must ensure that job transfers to Freeports are fought in order to defend workers’ wages and conditions. Our approach must be to demand that all new jobs, including apprenticeships, be at rates and conditions of pay agreed by the unions.

The Socialist Party gives its full support to the development of a coordinated trade union response to free ports. The meeting proposed a new national meeting in the fall and a national day of action to raise awareness and mobilize the opposition. This should include establishing links with the unions of the 83 free ports across Europe who will face their own attacks in the coming period.

The only way to ensure true leveling for all is to implement socialist policies which should include the renationalization of ports and transport as part of an integrated plan of production and distribution to ensure full employment and improve current salary and working conditions.

Financial appeal

The coronavirus crisis has exposed the class character of society in many ways. This clearly shows to many that it is the working class that makes society run, not the CEOs of big companies.

The results of austerity have been shown graphically as utilities struggle to cope with the crisis.

The government has now torn apart its mantra of “austerity” and turned to policies that not so long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, he will try to make the working class pay, by trying to get back what has been given.

  • The material of the Socialist Party is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report workers fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be prepared for the stormy events to come and the need to arm the labor movements with a socialist program – one that puts the health and needs of mankind ahead of the profits of society. some.

Inevitably, during the crisis, we were not able to sell the socialist and raise funds as we normally would.


We therefore urge all our viewers to donate to our Fight Fund.


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