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Bairbre de Brún lends support to Port workers strike

16 January, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today given her support to tens of thousands of port workers who downed tools today to protest at an European Commission proposal which would open up port services to de-regulation. Approximately 10,000 workers travelled to the European Parliament in Strasbourg to protest against the bill which will be debated tomorrow (Tue) and will be voted upon this Wednesday.

Ms de Brún said that today's industrial action represented a 'fight back by workers across the EU.'

Speaking from Strasbourg Ms de Brún said:

"Today's protest against the proposed de-regulation of port services across the EU comes only weeks after thousands of people marched in solidarity through Dublin in support of Irish Ferries workers against a bargain basement approach to workers' rights.

"I met today in the European Parliament with a delegation from the European Transport Workers Federation ( ETF) and the International Transport Workers Federation(ITF), who travelled to Strasbourg to inform MEPs about the Dockworkers demonstration and to lobby for a vote against the Port Services Directive

"In this instance it is not only the trades unions who oppose the Commission's proposals. Opposition also comes from many EU governments and from harbour authorities, including those in Belfast and Dublin. The proposal may well lead to a lack of investment in EU ports in the future.

"This 'self handling' element of the proposal before the European Parliament would mean that docking ships could bring in their own loaders, rather than use those currently available at existing ports. Not only would the proposal threaten the livelihoods of dock workers here in Ireland, but there is also concern regarding health and safety. In a bid to cut costs, shipping companies may well use unskilled, untrained, casual workers to load and unload vessels, and to operate cranes and lifting machinery. Ports would become an unregulated work space with the potential for serious health and safety breaches.

"I want to pay tribute to those workers who have campaigned hard to defeat this proposal, which faces widespread opposition across Europe. I pledge them my vote to reject this proposal in the European Parliament on Wednesday".ENDS

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