ITF Wants Lashing Returned to Shoreside Workers

Credit: ITF
Credit: ITF

Published Feb 19, 2020 7:25 PM by The Maritime Executive

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) and the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) have called on ship operators to return lashing to shoreside dock workers.

The ITF cites the incident earlier this month where the Dutch registered container vessel OOCL Rauma spilled seven containers overboard during a stormy passage from Kotka in Finland, to Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Containers onboard the 1,425-TEU ship are often lashed or secured by the ship’s crew in the North European feeder trade, says the ITF. 

On January 1, 2020, new rules contained in shipboard collective agreements came into force in Europe requiring containers to be lashed by shoreside dock workers.

The ITF and ETF say that ships trading along the European coast are not sufficiently crewed to levels to ensure that the ships safety can be assured when burdened by lashing demands. “Ships these days are already under-crewed, and seafarers have enough work getting vessels safely between ports. Fatigue is already a dangerous reality of life on ships,” said Niek Stam, vice-chair of the ITF Dockers’ Section. “Lashing is dangerous work and should be undertaken by trained dockers.” 

The unions also made the call in 2018 after a seafarer was killed in Ireland, while lashing and securing containers. Dennis Gomez Regana died after a container struck him at Southbank Quay when he was doing lashing work while container lifting operations were underway.

Last year, the ITF called on Transport Canada to ban foreign-crew from undertaking dangerous lashing work while vessels are underway in the St Lawrence River after the death of a seafarer who fell overboard the Maersk Patras. Despite an extensive search and rescue operation his body was not recovered. Investigations by Transport Canada and the ITF indicate that the man fell overboard whilst lashing, and crew claim that he was the only crew member not wearing fall protection.