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Sectoral social dialogue - Ports

Social partners

Workers' organisations Employers' organisations

European Transport Worker's Federation (ETF)

International Dockworkers Council (IDC)

Federation of European Private Port Operators (FEPORT)

European Sea Ports Organisation (ESPO)

What does the dialogue cover?

The committee for social dialogue in the ports sector was set up in 2013.

In terms of the EU's industry classification system (NACE), its work covers activities defined by codes 49.5, 50.1, 50.2, 52.1 and the whole group 52.2 (except 52.23).

Key facts about the sector

  • The sector employs some 1.5 million workers directly, in 22 EU countries, with a similar amount employed indirectly.
  • There are over 1,200 commercial seaports along the EU's coasts.
  • The EU is highly dependent on seaports for trade, both with the rest of the world (74% of transit for goods imports and exports) and internally, in the single market (37% of goods trade).
  • Ports guarantee the EU's territorial continuity by servicing regional shipping that links peripheral and island areas of the bloc.

Challenges for the sector

These include:

  • tightening existing legislation
  • improving communication about onboard safety hazards
  • reducing risks to port workers from atmospheric conditions in enclosed spaces (lack of oxygen, fumigation).
  • the impact of market and technological developments (increasing size of ships, shipping alliances, the financial crisis, etc.). 

​Focus of committee work

The Committee's work programme for the coming years reflects the commitment of the social partners to address challenges jointly, covering topics such as:

  • scope of social dialogue
  • safety issues such as atmospheric conditions within enclosed spaces and handling of hazardous cargo
  • safety on board
  • training and qualifications
  • gender issues, such as promoting female employment
  • lashing.

Activities & meetings

Records of the committee's work

Recent achievements