IWW - Nevidni delavci sveta

Open Letter of the IWW to the President of the Republic of Slovenia, dr. Danilo Türk, regarding the strike in Luka Koper (Port of Koper)

2nd of August 2011

Honorable President of the Republic of Slovenia, dr. Danilo Türk!

It has already been brought to your attention that the movement Invisible Workers of the World (IWW) is closely following the situation of migrant workers and that one of the main goals of our effort is the immediate abolition of their discrimination, which is the result of a systemic (state) arrangement of their unequal position in regard to other (citizen and EU) workers. In the past you have already expressed your support for the demands of our movement (in the struggle of the self-organized group of SCT (a construction firm) workers on the 18th of February 2011 and during the rent strike of Vegrad (another construction firm) workers, inhabitants of Vegrad’s worker dormitory in Ljubljana on 15th of July 2011). On both occasions you have expressed your desire - since this topic is of your great concern - that we keep you informed about the developments of both struggles and the existing difficulties of workers, who are in their greatest despair completely marginalized and ignored, although their only demand is equality and just payment for their work.

Recently, we have actively supported the strike of workers in Luka Koper (Port of Koper). Our support and active engagement arise out of our deepest belief, that the demands of the workers on strike are just and legitimate, but most of all because of the fact, that Luka Koper employs a large group of people, hired through subcontractors. These workers are subject to similar statutory restrictions and working conditions as other migrant workers in Slovenia, like the ones from SCT and Vegrad for example. This group of workers has joined the strike of other port workers on Friday, the 29th of July. Their demands are equal employment contracts (direct contract, i.e. collective agreement with the Port of Koper) and equal working conditions for all the port workers (the same working hours and payments). Namely, the existing labor regime in the port (with different subcontractors for different jobs) enables the port management to systematically exploit the completely precarious workers, which are - because of their consequent position - pushed into inhumane working and living conditions, with overtime working hours, underpaid wages and substantially lower worker and social rights. Similarly as other workers on strike they are subject to various forms of pressure from the side of the state, the port management and their employers, but their situation is even more difficult.

Despite the ongoing strike the management of the port claims it has no direct responsibility for the workers of its subcontractors and continuously avoids any negotiation with them. For the obvious reasons we feel obliged to repeat the fact, that the Slovenian state is the largest owner of Luka Koper and at the same time the most responsible for the establishment of a labor regime that enables such exploitation. Therefore it must react to the recent events and contribute to the enhancement of the situation of the workers, employed by the port via subcontractors.

The first necessary step in this effort would be the start of the negotiations between the management of the port, the subcontractors and the organized port workers, employed by them. Therefore, we appeal to your authority to intervene within the broadest limits of your jurisdiction into the stalemate of the situation and in this way contribute to the beginning of its unfolding. The subcontracting workers and their demands are surrounded by the silence of the management, the state and the broader public. But your position and your intervention could contribute substantially to overcome their distress.


Invisible Workers of the World IWW