Union wants permanent harbour jobs

STEPHEN PULLINGER As the northern breakwater of Yarmouth's outer harbour begins to take shape, union leaders were yesterday seeking assurances over dock workers' jobs at the new port.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

As the northern breakwater of Yarmouth's outer harbour begins to take shape, union leaders were yesterday seeking assurances over dock workers' jobs at the new port.

More than a year ahead of the earliest possible opening date for the £80m harbour, Victor Brazkiewicz, regional industrial organiser for the union Unite, emphasised the need for "permanent jobs at decent pay levels".

During discussions with the International Transport Federation, he said local government and regional East of England Development Agency grants towards the scheme had been agreed because of Yarmouth's economic difficulties - both the union and the local community therefore expected economic improvement.

"With the dock expansion it is critical that we avoid casual labour and also avoid ships' crews handling their own cargo," he said. "A properly trained and experienced dock labour force would give a safer working environment with better control of working hours to prevent fatigue."

He said they had already become concerned by the "great fragmentation" of dock work in the harbour prior to the port company taking over and Unite would be looking to meet appropriate organis-ations, including the port company, to promote their employment aims.

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The ideal would be to see one major dockworkers' company offering stable employment and stemming the tide towards the use of casual labour.

Following the first seven weeks of barge movements, bringing granite from Sweden, a tidy arrangement of rocks can be seen above water level, from the shore to at least 100m out.

The rocks are the first part of the northern breakwater which is expected to take until the end of the year to complete after which contractors will start on the southern breakwater. The breakwaters are expected to measure 1,400m.

Eddie Freeman, chief executive of Yarmouth Port Company, said: "Everything is going pretty much according to plan and on schedule. We have received about 40,000 tonnes of rock so far and the entire project will use almost a million tonnes."

In a matter of weeks the site next to South Beach Parade, near the harbour's mouth, has been transformed from derelict wasteland into a thriving construction site.

Portable buildings, flood lights, diggers and tonnes of rock now dominate the area which is busy with workers from building contractors Van Oord and Edmund Nuttall.

The landmark agreement to build the harbour was reached by International Port Holdings and Yarmouth Port Authority in May.

It is predicted that the harbour, which will include a container terminal and, hopefully, a ferry link to Holland, could indirectly create 1,000 jobs as well as boosting tourism and regenerating the rundown area of South Denes.

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