ITF asks that "shore-based workers undertake shipboard container lashing under the supervision of the shipmaster."

Given that lashing operations are crucially challenging, ITF and its affiliate unions signed an agreement containing a clause stating that lashing can only be done by qualified dockers, unless otherwise agreed by the local dockers’ unions.

Specifically, lashing operations hide many risks for those getting involved. Also, some companies that wish to accelerate port operations or save money do not hire trained dockers for the job; Most of the times, unqualified seafarers, lacking training, are conducting the lashing operations and end up stressed and fatigued, receiving no additional payment for this extra operation, ETF reports.

Therefore, the new amended clause coming into force is the result of a five-year ITF campaign on “reclaiming lashing for dockworkers” which became part of a recent International Bargaining Forum (IBF) agreement between an International Maritime Employment Council (IMEC) negotiating group and the ITF.

GET THE SAFETY4SEA IN YOUR INBOX!

However, this decision is facing critic from six European short-sea and feeder lines, all operating ships of under 170 meters in length, who comment that "union suggestions that lashing done by dockers is safer are baseless".

They all support that this change, concerning lashing operations, is legally unenforceable, restricts competition for lashing activities, will bring extra costs and delays in container loading/discharge, and could persuade shippers to switch to more polluting road transport.

Also, Patrick van de Ven, founding partner of Venturn, a maritime and logistics consultancy based in Rotterdam stated that fully trained ship crews at several EU ports are routinely conducting container lashing operations, "working within strict safety guidelines".