SDU: APMT Gothenburg Launches Workforce Cut

Terminal operator APM Terminals Gothenburg will start today with massive layoffs and the implementation of new work patterns, the Swedish Dockworkers Union (SDU) informed. 

Aimed at increasing the terminal’s productivity, the measures will result in cuts of 100 dockworker jobs before and during the summer, according to the SDU.

APMT Gothenburg has developed a new model for manning where three (instead of today’s four) dockworkers are supposed to continuously man two straddle carriers during each shift, while also performing other tasks. The new model reduces the total number of dockworkers needed to continuously man one crane, two straddle carriers, the crane tally and manual tasks from nine to eight persons.

In addition, the terminal operator has changed weekly working hours.

The SDU said that APMT Gothenburg’s management “has unilaterally decided to implement these extensive cuts without agreements or even constructive negotiations with any trade union.”

On February 23, the SDU, the International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC) and APMT Gothenburg held a meeting which was expected to bring a solution to the conflict between the SDU and the company. However, the meeting ended without any results and the terminal operator said it will proceed with layoffs and changes in work patterns.

Caused by a change in the company’s personnel policies, the dispute has been ongoing since spring 2016.

The latest industrial action was organized by the SDU on January 24 and included a total work stoppage at the terminal between 12:00 and 20:00 local time.

Dockers planned to stage another strike on February 17-28. However, the SDU canceled this strike in order to meet with Henrik Kristensen, CEO of APMT Gothenburg.

During the past week, the Swedish Transport Workers’ Union’s (STWU) local officials informed the dockworkers of their view of the upcoming changes to the work patterns and the manning model. It was understood that the STWU has reached an agreement about the wages for the new work patterns but not about the working time. However, the STWU said it will not oppose the new work patterns or pursue outstanding issues any further, stating that “they (the STWU) will sign at the central level anyway.”

“The only way to solve the current chaotic situation is to re-establish a constructive dialogue with the Swedish Dockworkers’ Union … and engage in good faith negotiations to restructure the whole production model in the terminal. New long-term agreements, involving all affected unions, would lay the groundwork for a climate of cooperation between the company’s management and its employees,” the SDU said.

“The APMT management’s austerity measures are ill-considered, will present grave long term Health & Safety problems and may also result in productivity and service levels dropping even further. This could accelerate the current trend of customers leaving the largest container port in Scandinavia, at a time when overall trade is increasing and neighboring terminals in the port of Gothenburg are extremely busy.”

“As of now, there is no solution to the APMT Gothenburg Dispute in sight,” the SDU added.