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Union urges fair working conditions in Swiss port infrastructure financed with public tax money

8 December 2020

Nautilus will seek to ensure fair working conditions for maritime professionals when newly approved port infrastructure is built in Basel.

On 29 November 2020 a majority of citizens in Basel voted in favour of the new port basin, known as Hafenbecken 3, which will form a 'trimodal' terminal known as Gateway Basel Nord.

Nautilus national organiser in Switzerland Holger Schatz said :'There is no question that effective infrastructure can be built in the area planned for the new container terminal, but the arguments put forward conceal the fact that modernisation could have been realised in the existing port area as well, possibly even much cheaper.

'The fact that this possibility was never seriously considered, however, has to do solely with the fact that there are great financial interests on the part of the real estate industry and the city to relocate the existing port infrastructure so that a "higher value use" could be made of the Rhine.

'This is one of the reasons why we, as a trade union, are not cheering this relocation, but are concentrating on continuing our campaign for better working conditions. '

Proponents of the terminal argued it was needed for ecological reasons and that the route from the two existing Basel harbours – via container from the barge to the Swiss railway network – is 'long and complicated'.

In association with Swiss trade unions Unia, SEV and Syndicom (unions active in road, rail transport and port handling), Nautilus is running a campaign demanding binding compliance with social standards by all companies involved in the redevelopment – whether in shipping, road transport, port transhipment or rail.

  • A public meeting is being held in Basel on 22 June 2021 on the theme 'Social standards for good working practice at Gateway Basel Nord'. The meeting will hear from Paul Nowak of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC). He will report on positive examples of public infrastructure work such as the London 2012 Summer Olympics.