ITF Calls for Maersk Group to Ensure Collective Bargaining at Svitzer

File image courtesy Svitzer

Published Mar 17, 2022 7:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

The ITF has appealed directly to Maersk Group's shareholders to tackle alleged anti-union practices within its Svitzer towage division, recommending that Maersk could use a portion of its record-setting profits to improve worker pay. 

At a Maersk shareholders' meeting this week, ITF highlighted for attendees that Svitzer has recently moved to terminate its collective bargaining agreement with its Australian workforce. It also accused the towage division's management of setting up a second parallel business in the Netherlands, which has declined to accept collective bargaining. ITF also accused Svitzer of freezing the salaries of tug workers at the port of Teesport in the UK, prompting plans for a strike action. 

Maersk made a record-setting $24 billion in calendar year 2021, thanks in large part to skyrocketing freight rates. It plans to deliver $7.3 billion of that total to shareholders in the form of dividend payouts. 

"It’s undisputable that the company’s success is a testament to the effort put in by its workforce over the past year working throughout this pandemic. Instead of rewarding them for this achievement with better pay and security, Maersk is leaving some of its workers behind,” said ITF Maritime Coordinator Jacqueline Smith. “We don’t begrudge Maersk their success, but what we do object to is that these record profits, derived mostly from record-high container prices seen during the pandemic, aren’t being shared with the workers.”

Maersk also faces scrutiny over the pricing that generated last year's excellent returns. It has recently received a subpoena from the U.S. Department of Justice seeking information on its response to recent supply chain disruptions, believed to be part of an investigation into possible antitrust infringement.