Vessels that are not properly lashed pose a danger not only to the ship’s crew, but also to the marine environment. Ships these days are already under-crewed and seafarers have enough work getting vessels safely between ports. Fatigue is already a dangerous reality of life on ships,

...said Niek Stam, vice-chair of the ITF Dockers’ Section.

The renewed call came after a recent incident involving the Dutch registered container vessel OOCL Rauma. The ship spilled seven containers overboard during a stormy passage from Kotka, Finland, to Rotterdam in the Netherlands, on February 11.

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

The new amended clause, that into force this year, is the result of a five-year ITF campaign on “reclaiming lashing for dockworkers”.

However, the decision faced criticism from European short-sea and feeder lines, who commented that this change 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.

The ITF and ETF are clear that lashing on container ships should be done by dock workers. Ships trading along the European coast are not sufficiently crewed to levels to ensure that the ships safety can be assured when burdened by lashing demands.

Fatigued crew make mistakes, the unions argued, and when containers are not sufficiently lashed accidents happen creating hazards to navigation and to the marine environment and life.

So-called responsible shipowners need to reconsider their actions that put us all to risk. Shipping already suffers from a poor reputation, and incidents like this only harden public opinion. Lashing is dangerous work and should be undertaken by trained dockers,

...Stam added.