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Danish dockers’ action and international solidarity wins improved conditions for seafarers

29 Apr 2024

Rallying of trade union support from Belgium, Australia and the USA crucial to new terms on ship working to install wind turbines with world’s largest offshore wind developer, Ørsted

Action by dockers in Esbjerg, Denmark, has won a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) guaranteeing better pay and conditions for seafarers installing offshore wind for Germany.

The dockers from Danish union and ITF affiliate, 3F, began their action on Friday, 19 April, after subsea engineering company, Seaway 7, refused to sign a CBA on its offshore vessel, Seaway Ventus. The Seaway Ventus is chartered to work two Ørsted projects in Germany, with Esbjerg the staging port to install the turbines.

Dockers from Belgium (ACV Transcom), Australia (Maritime Union of Australia) and the USA (International Longshoremen’s Association) were braced for solidarity action to support the Scandinavian dockers and seafarers. This, combined with strong support from the port of Esbjerg’s management, was crucial to the new agreement, signed by the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union (NSU).

Ole Philipsen, chair of the ITF Offshore Taskforce, from ITF-affiliate CO-Sea, said: “How can we seriously talk about any kind of ‘just transition’ if the workers putting renewable energy systems in place are denied fair wages and conditions? The answer is we can’t, and it would make a mockery of what we’re trying to achieve if we sacrifice workers’ rights in the urgently needed shift to renewable energy.

“As the world’s leading company in offshore wind development, Ørsted should be matching its words with actions,” Philipsen explained. “Ørsted’s ‘code of conduct’ is crystal clear in outlining the company’s commitment to human and labour rights, yet this isn’t the first time that it’s taken concerted action to turn its commitment into reality.

“As for Seaway 7, we have previously experienced their reluctance to sign any agreements. In this light, it is very satisfactory that the NSU has now succeeded in securing an agreement with the shipowner.

“This outcome shows yet again that seafarers and dockers will stand firm together to secure the rights they are entitled to – and that when they do, companies have to listen.”

Angelica Gjestrum, ITF Coordinator in Norway, said: “We expect Norwegian shipowners to adhere to best practices, all Norwegian beneficially owned vessels should be covered by an ITF agreement. 

“We are very pleased that the company agreed to sign so that now the crew are covered by decent and enforceable wage and working conditions. Collective agreements are not only about wages, but also about social guarantees and transparent procedures on board.” 

Dennis Jul Pedersen, CEO of the Port of Esbjerg, said: “Our port, Esbjerg, is the largest in the world for the installation of offshore wind, and it’s crucial that we set a template for how this vital industry functions. The offshore wind industry must be the epitome of sustainability, and therefore display accountability throughout its supply chain.

“I’m delighted that the parties have found an agreement, and the project can progress as planned – a real ‘just transition’ where workers with good jobs with strong terms and conditions are at the heart of building a sustainable future for all of us.” 

In February this year, dockers from ITF affiliate, the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), won the fight to protect their work jurisdiction at Ørsted’s offshore wind operations at the Port of New London, Connecticut, after an eight-month long campaign against the US energy major.

The victory was won after strike action and international solidarity from ITF affiliate unions in the wake of Ørsted’s refusal to recognize the ILA’s jurisdiction of loading and unloading cargo at the port.



  • Ørsted’s code of conduct is available here.
  • For more background on trade union action against Ørsted see the ITF here.

Media contacts:  

ITF media contact: Mark Dearn +44 7738 832 413  

Port of Esbjerg media contact: Dennis Jul Pedersen +45 2948 4029