The transport conflict in Risavika and Mosjøen

05.11.2014 14:33:00

The unnoticeable boycott conducted by the Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union in Risavika has now entered its second year. The conflict concerns the loading and unloading at the Risavika Terminal – should this work be performed by the members of the Industry Energy trade union, or by members of the Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union who work at Stavanger loading and unloading company (Stavanger Losse- og Lastekontor).

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Industry Energy’s members have been loading and unloading the ships calling at this harbour for 20 years. The only factors that have changed are that the quay where the loading and unloading take place, has been moved to the other side of the little bay and is thus no longer inside the area described as a supply base, and that the employees now belong to a separate company because of a business transfer. Hence, the personnel must service the ships from a quay five minutes away from the old quay. The committee that decides the dispute on whether it is our land base agreement or the Transport Workers’ Union’s agreement that should apply, stated that neither applies automatically. Later on, LO (Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions) decided they felt the Transport Workers’ Union’s agreement should apply, but the employer and our members disagreed. The company has based the business transfer on our land base agreement. Our members are permanent employees of Risavika Terminal and have proper work and pay conditions. If LO and the Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union win through, permanent employees will have to be dismissed and replaced with contractors.

To support the boycott at Risavika, the Transport Workers’ Union has called out their members at Mosjøen Industri Terminal in a sympathy strike. A dispensation from the conflict was granted in order to avoid impacting production at the aluminium works in Mosjøen. This is still in place. The loading and unloading work in Mosjøen is performed by the company Mosjøen Industri Terminal (MIT). The employees at the terminal belong to Industry Energy, while the actual loading and unloading work is performed by Losse- og Lastekontoret in Mosjøen. This enterprise is owned by those who work there.

After a while, a conflict arose between MIT and Losse- og Lastekontoret / Mosjøen Transport Workers’ Union (MTAF) concerning how many people they should pay for on each assignment, as investments in new equipment had led to a need for fewer stevedores. The case was taken up centrally in January, and crews of fewer stevedores than before were requested while the matter was being considered. In May, another conflict arose between MIT and MTAF. This time the disagreement concerned the ”tonnage supplement” in the tariff agreement. This supplement had been an issue for quite a while, and MIT chose at that point not to pay it. That led to MTAF stopping their work on 8 May. MIT then ordered their own employees to work, as there was a boat by the quayside that had to leave as soon as possible. MTAF then chose to intervene and block the work, but they were evicted. Later on MTAF was shut out of the area, so that they no longer could prevent the boats from being loaded and unloaded.

No one can say for sure whether this is a strike, a lockout or a dispute about the size of an invoice. In any case, our members at the terminal are ordered to perform loading and unloading work. We have asked LO what would be the outcome of the dispute between Transport and the employer in the courts. The answer from LO is wonderfully clear: "LO’s legal department cannot guarantee a decision either way". We have also asked LO whether our members should refuse to perform the work. LO will give us no such recommendation. As long as LO is unable to guarantee the outcome of the dispute and to state clearly that they will support our members and compensate them if they refuse to work, the work will continue. As soon as our central federation asks us to stop working, we will do so.