Fears over spread of casual labour
FEARS have been raised that casualisation of the workforce in Great Yarmouth's port could spread to others around the country. It follows the axing of 11 jobs at Eastport Cargo Handling with port bosses replacing the workforce with casual labour.
FEARS have been raised that casualisation of the workforce in Great Yarmouth's port could spread to others around the country.
It follows the axing of 11 jobs at Eastport Cargo Handling with port bosses replacing the workforce with casual labour.
The move has angered dockers and the town's MP Tony Wright who fear it could lead other ports around the country favouring causal employment.
The strength of feeling among fellow port workers about the situation in Yarmouth was shown earlier this month when dockers from Thamesport, Felixstowe, Dover, the Humber, Southampton, Grimsby and Hull travelled to the town to take part in a protest against the job cuts.
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Docker Steven Drew said he was in no doubt that casualising the workforce in Yarmouth could have knock-on affects at other ports.
He said: “The port in Yarmouth will be trying to attract work from others around the country where they have decent terms and conditions of employment. These employers will not want to lose work and could be forced into casualising the workforce to keep work there.
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“In 1989 when the dock labour scheme was abolished, the National Association for Port Employers told the then Conservative government that it would not lead to a return of casualisation. Casual work did begin to appear in ports but as far as I'm aware, a skilled workforce has never been taken out in favour of a casual one.”
Mr Drew added: “Our Conservative-run borough council has also been very quiet on this issue and I find this disgusting. They should follow the Tory government's line of 1989 when they said there would be no return to casualisation.
Yarmouth MP Tony Wright, who recently met with transport minister Paul Clark to discuss the issue, said he was deeply concerned.
He said: “It is obviously one of the worries on a national basis that if casualisation is accepted it could spread and I know the minister has concerns. Twenty years ago when the then Conservative government got rid of the dock workers labour scheme they said quite clearly it was not going to be a return to casualisation, so even they recognised the danger.”
Meanwhile, dockers are continuing daily protests outside the South Quay headquarters during their lunch hour between midday and 1pm - demonstrations which are also being attended by members of the public.