NWS at centre of strike

The ongoing boycott of North-Western Shipping (NWS) vessels is behind a nationwide port strike in Finland on Wednesday.

The Russian cargoship company said dockers have refused to unload its ships since March in a dispute over wage levels on board.

Stevedores walked out for 24 hours on Wednesday morning after alleged intimidation of a union official from a representative of its vessel Rusch-5, which was boycotted last week in Tornio.

NWS said this was apparently referring to a letter sent to the chairman of the dockers union in which a claim for damages was mentioned, together with the possible personal liability of the chairman.

“The letter is in accordance with the normal custom of informing the other counterparty of a dispute on the fact that the shipowner holds him liable for any damages,” NWS said.

“It is regrettable, but also very illustrative, that the harbours of Finland are on strike as a result of this kind of letter.

“The disputed matter should be resolved in legal order and in the competent court where the case is pending.  Shipowner company regrets that the issue has escalated into a nationwide strike.”

NWS added that it has been forced to seek local injunctions to stop action by dockers in relation to its ships. The Rusch-5 injunction has not yet been complied with, it claimed.

The owner said its fleet has valid certificates for the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 and that crews have no issue with the company and do not want Finnish union representation.