The war on Europe’s waterfront – Repertoires of power in the port transport industry

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Series Details Vol.44, No.2, June 2006, p305-326
Publication Date June 2006
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When the European Commission proposed a Directive On Market Access to Port Services in February 2001, the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) issued a declaration of war on Europe's waterfront. To protect established terms and conditions of employment in the port transport industry, the ITF developed a strategy of internationalisation that required dock workers to engage in a new politics of scale wrought by globalization. A new repertoire of collective action — based on more effective union articulation (i.e. stronger interrelationships between the workplace, national and international levels of organisation) combined with the activities of new labour networks that connected port workers at the trans-national corporation, port range and pan-European levels — enabled dockers to sink the Directive in the European Parliament in November 2003. The dockers' victory will not be lost on other European unions or indeed other global union federations, although their success will doubtless prove more difficult for other occupational groups to emulate.

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