Container workers at the Port of Rotterdam have voted to hold a series of 24-hour strikes in December and January in protest at possible job cuts, threatening to freeze the movement of goods through Europe's largest port.
Niek Stam, leader of the FNV Havens union, said in a statement members of the union had voted in favour of the strikes to back their demand for guarantees of no layoffs for the coming nine years.
Major container employers ECT, APMT and RWG have rejected that demand in contract talks which have been running since April.
"The employers have said that they think that demand is not realistic, something of a different era," said Sjaak Poppe, a spokesman for the Port of Rotterdam, which is brokering the now-stalled talks and which has been asked by the employers to speak on their behalf.
The source of the conflict is the commissioning of two new highly automated container terminals, expected to lead to the loss of 700 out of 4,000 jobs in container throughput at the port in 2017.
FNV's strike committee has signalled it will choose three days in December and three in January for strikes.
Whether or not traffic in the port is disrupted will depend on the nature of the strike and how thoroughly union members adhere to the call, Poppe said, adding he expected the first action between Dec. 9 and 11.
(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Jason Neely and David Holmes)