MP's concern for port jobs

A EURO MP has voiced extreme disappointment that proposed new laws which could threaten thousands of jobs at Britain's biggest container port had not already been thrown out.

A EURO MP today voiced extreme disappointment that proposed new laws which could threaten thousands of jobs at Britain's biggest container port had not already been thrown out.

But Labour MEP Richard Howitt pledged to carry on fighting - and believed it would be defeated by the European Parliament in its final vote in the New Year.

Opponents are worried the changes will mean portworkers at Felixstowe being employed by different companies instead of the port owners - or forced to accept casual work, as and when they were needed.

The law seeks to increase competition in ports by forcing port owners to sub-contract unloading and other services to separate companies, but it is feared this will not only undermine permanent jobs, but cause safety problems and remove incentives for future investment.


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Mr Howitt and Geordie Landles, senior convenor from the Transport and General Workers Union at the Port of Felixstowe, travelled to Brussels to hear the transport committee's debate.

The 51-member committee first of all voted - by one vote - to reject a series of amendments which would have made the laws more acceptable to many of its opponents, and then passed it on to the European Parliament in January to see what it feels.

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Mr Howitt said: “It is extremely disappointing that our attempt to defeat the proposal at the committee stage in the European Parliament was lost by just four votes, when Euro MPs had successfully thrown out a previous attempt to put forward the law only two years ago.

“However as both port owners and workers together oppose the law, locally and elsewhere in Europe, I am still hopeful that we can win a majority in the European Parliament to reject it once and for all.”

Bosses at Felixstowe port have also been keeping a close eye on the progress of the proposals, attending many of the debates in the European Parliament, and are waiting to see what will happen before commenting.

Are you a portworker worried by the proposed changes in the laws - do you think Europe should stop interfering? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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