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Essberger social plan agreed following Union pressure

15 July 2021

Nautilus members at risk of redundancy at John T. Essberger have agreed a revised 'social plan' with the tanker operator after it returned to the negotiating table following media coverage of the dispute.

Members had challenged forced redundancies at Essberger, which had provided notice of less than one month for the sale of three Netherlands flagged tankers Alcedo, Ardea and Dutch Faith, and the proposed job losses.

The tanker owner had immediately put 28 crew at risk of unemployment. That number was later reduced to 21 following discussions with the Union.

Nautilus International industrial officer Bert Klein said Essberger was operating a social dumping strategy by importing cheap labour from overseas to replace existing Dutch crew.

'At first, the employer did not want to discuss the content of employment. Nor did it want to discuss the usefulness and necessity of compulsory redundancies and to demonstrate the usefulness and necessity of compulsory redundancies. 

'It wasn't until a much later stage, after the necessary international media attention, that Essberger changed its mind and eventually followed a process that should have been followed from the very beginning.'

On 1 July the employer came back to the negotiations table and Nautilus concluded a social plan that includes opportunities for members to work on Essberger ships flagged in Madeira.

The agreed social plan sets a clear process for any future reorganisation at Essberger to avoid the chaotic course of the current process. It also includes:

  • Severance payment: transition compensation 1.5 times the severance payment
  • Outplacement, legal costs, etc of €5,000 gross
  • Exemption from work
  • Leave credit is frozen and paid out in final statement

'In our view, while even more can be done to avoid forced redundancies at Essberger, the social plan agreement is a step in the right direction,' Mr Klein said.

'We will continue to do everything we can to remind Dutch politics of the importance of a good business climate for its people in the Netherlands and to keep tonnage attractive under the Dutch flag. So that the Netherlands remains an important seafarer nation in the future.'

Essberger recently established a partnership with Stolt Tankers, resulting in a joint venture E&S Tankers. The E&S fleet consists of 45 ships.

Essberger has also invested in eight newbuild tankers, the first of which will be flagged in Madeira.

The number of Essberger ships under the Netherlands flag has fallen from 11 to eight.