Dockers’ clause must be respected!

UPDATE Lashing  – Rotterdam Court states that Dockers’ clause must be respected!

Dear Colleagues,

To all members of the Dockers’ Section of ETF.

Yesterday the Court of Rotterdam delivered its verdict on the Dockers’ Clause: ITF, FNV Havens and Nautilus International won the Court case.

You can find below the information shared by FNV Havens and Nautilus International:

Despite massive resistance of shipowners and charterers: lashing clause must be respected


The Court of Rotterdam gave a serious slap on the wrist of international crew manager Marlow and a shipowner. For years, they have disobeyed collective bargaining agreements about the lashing of sea-going vessels. Labour unions ITF, Nautilus International and FNV Havens went to court.

Saying ‘yes’ and doing ‘no’ is a no-go, according to the judges.

The lashing clause has been at the center of a major court case. At an international level, this clause was agreed upon between social partners in 2018. The clause stipulates that lashing must be done by qualified dock workers. In case dock workers are not available, then seafarers may only lash on a voluntary basis and against additional payment. On January 1, 2020, the clause took effect. Employers, shipowners and charterers refused to comply with the clause, also in the port of Rotterdam.

The trade unions involved joined forces to enforce the clause.

The judges ruled in favour of the unions today. The defendants were ordered to comply with the lashing clause in the port of Rotterdam and in foreign ports. If the defendants again fail to comply with the collective agreement, hefty penalty payments will be forfeited.

Niek Stam, FNV Havens trade union executive and member of the negotiating team of the framework CBA: “Those who don’t fight will never win. This is the only logical outcome of the lawsuit. Otherwise a signature would no longer be worth anything. A deal is a deal. “

The many defenses of employers, shipowner and charterers were brushed aside in the ruling. It was argued that the collective agreement would violate competition law. But the judges ruled that agreements resulting from social dialogue, such as a collective agreement like this lashing clause, fall outside the scope of competition law. Based on expert reports, the court determined that the lashing clause serves the safety of seafarers and is exempt from competition law.

Trade union leader Sascha Meijer of Nautilus International: “Fatigue among seafarers is a major concern in the maritime sector. Against this background, agreements on lashing have been reached at the international level. It is a victory for everyone in the maritime sector that those agreements cannot be haggled with.”

The fact that Marlow, as a temporary employer of seafarers, has no direct influence on the work on board could not benefit Marlow either. The temporary employer will at the least have to make an effort to ensure that those collective bargaining agreements are complied with on board.

The court did recognize that during the first half of the Covid pandemic rules were in place that did not allow dockworkers to board seagoing vessels. If the IMO, EU or a national government orders such Covid measures, these must be respected.

Although FNV Havens was not a party to the collective bargaining agreements for individual ships, this union does have a special interest in compliance with the lashing clause. The judges ruled that Marlow acted unlawfully and socially negligent towards FNV Havens. The judgment once again underlines the importance of collective agreements:

“Given the weight attached to the social dialogue within the European Union, it is of paramount importance to respect the results thereof and to having these results implemented in good faith by the parties that are bound to these results. Otherwise, the social dialogue has only symbolic value, which is at odds with the importance attached to it in Europe and in the Netherlands.”

The lashing clause applies in all ports worldwide and is included in numerous international collective bargaining agreements.

ITF and local trade unions monitor compliance with the clause.

Proceedings are also underway in other countries against parties that do not comply with the lashing clause, such as in Germany.

In Dutch ports, too, compliance with the lashing agreement remains a priority on the trade union agenda.

Reders en charteraars moeten zich aan de nieuwe sjorregels van Dockers Clause houden