IWW - Nevidni delavci sveta

Double strike of Workers in Luka Koper (Port of Koper), Slovenia. Call for Support (Invisible Workers of the World)

Monday, August 1st 2011

On Friday, 29th of July, workers of the Koper port went on strike, since all the previous negotiations on working conditions between them and the management of the port have been unsuccessful. The management of the port has consequently undertaken a misleading public campaign, stating that the strike is illegitimate and even illegal. Incorrect information about the strike has been spread also from the side of the Union of Port Workers (Sindikat pristaniških delavcev), since its representatives argue, that the strike is pursuing the interest of only one part of the employed, namely the crane operators and their self-organized and independent Union of Crane Operators (Sindikat žerjavistov), which are, in their opinion, already the most privileged workers of the port. But the truth is the opposite! The demands of the striking workers are more then justified, since they refer to working and safety conditions as well as the length of the working day. The life and the health of the workers must be of more importance then the profit of the minority.

Not only the crane workers, all workers in the port are on strike! Workers, employed directly by the port and workers, employed by subcontractors, hired by the port, are struggling side by side. The latter, that work in the most precarious and insecure positions, are completely invisible and disposable. They are discriminated in wages, since their pay is substantially lower, frequently without any legally prescribed contributions for health, pension and social security, they work more and in dangerous conditions. Since they are mainly migrants from the so called third countries, mostly from Bosnia and Herzegovina, they are regular victims of blackmail regarding their visa prolongation and other repressive administrative requirements.

Strike is taking place at the work places in the port. The workers come to their shifts, but they do not work, with the exception of the goods, defined in the collective agreement: they do unload dangerous and other urgent material. The reaction of the management of the port is a mixture of denial, negative propaganda and reliance on time pressure and the exhaustion of the workers on strike. Some of the subcontracting workers have found out, that their entrance permission to the port has been invalidated. Threats of one-sided labor contract terminations are common. New workers, that should substitute the ones on strike, are smuggled in by the management on the side entrances. They are without qualifications, contracts and unregistered. But the striking workers are determined to persist until the end: they will strike until the realization of all of their demands.

The workers on strike need the broadest support. And since we feel that their demands are our demands, we, the Invisible Workers of the World (IWW), closely follow the struggle of the port workers and completely identify with it. Since neither the state with its work legislation neither the employers care about our safety or health, we regularly work in dangerous conditions and overtime. This is also evident in official statistics that show, that migrant and precarious workers are at the top in inflicted work injuries, death rates on working place, breaches of workers rights and discriminatory working legislation. This is why the port workers on strike have all our support. Those, employed by subcontractors, have absolutely no officially recognized workers rights. They are, similarly as all invisible workers, hostage to a systematic relation of dependency, which allows for their additional exploitation, expressed in very low wages, dangerous working conditions and high insecurity. The number of such workers is increasing in all sectors of production. And this is an additional reason why the basic unionism, exercised and developed in Koper, must be supported and presented as a role model for organization of precarious workers.

IWW strongly refuses the allegations of the management of the port, that the strike is illegal. Justified demands of the workers for safety and equality can not be illegal! The right to strike is the most important and the most basic right of workers, it is a mean of struggle when all other instruments fail. We strongly believe that the management’s response to the strike must be in accordance with this fact and that it must take a form of a thoughtful dialog and not - as in the case of the Luka Koper management - with undercover actions and misleading reactions.

IWW supports the strike in Luka Koper and we also call for broader solidarity. Individuals, collectives, networks, send your support for the striking workers and spread the correct information about the events. Support the strike, send a clear sign to the workers, that their struggle is just and important, help them to put pressure on the management to fulfill the demands.

Invisible Workers of the World IWW



Iww Nevidni Delavci Sveta(facebook)

You can send your support to

mladenaut@yahoo.com (Union of Crane Operators)

predragt3@gmail.com (Union of the subcontracting workers)

soc.center.rog@gmail.com (IWW)