X – Polish dockworkers stage protests at Macquarie offices

Unions want the company running Gdansk’s deepwater terminal to grant a collective bargaining agreement and reinstate laid-off staff.

Dockworkers are holding demonstrations across Europe over the next seven days to protest against what they deem “poor treatment of workers” at the Polish Port of Gdansk.

Protests will take place outside offices run by Australia-based Macquarie Group, which owns a majority stake in Deepwater Container Terminal Gdansk (DCT) via its Global Infrastructure Fund II (GIF II).

The workers’ main grievances revolve around issues of pay, employment contracts and recent lay-offs at the company, according to the International Transport Workers’ Federation and the European Transport Workers’ Federation.

No further details were disclosed, but it is understood that the union is asking for DCT staff with a seniority of two years or more to be offered indefinite period agreements. It is also said to be demanding that all employees receive a gross pay increase of at least PLN1,000 (€226; $248), which insiders say represent a minimum 20 percent rise. The unions couldn’t be reached before press time.

DCT, which declined to comment on negotiation details, emphasised that it “runs an ongoing dialogue with the trade union at a senior management level”.

“Since January 2015, when the trade union initiated a legally-regulated dialogue, we have had approximately 18 meetings with the union, including four with the company [chief executive],” a spokesperson for DCT told Infrastructure Investor in an email response.

The company denied having terminated employment contracts of former staff over union membership issues. “Terminations only take place around issues of performance or breaches of health and safety policies,” it said.

No details have been confirmed over the shape of a potential compromise, but Infrastructure Investor understands that the company has proposed performing in-depth reviews of staff currently on fixed-term contracts while also introducing flexible bonuses awarded on an individual basis.

Macquarie declined to comment.

GIFII is a 2004-vintage vehicle that closed on $497 million, according to Infrastructure Investor Research & Analytics. It is listed as a 10-year closed-ended fund on Macquarie’s website.

In addition to DCT, the vehicle owns stakes in UK broadcast business Arqiva, New Zealand aged care provider Retirement Care, Spanish vehicle inspection business Itevelesa, French wind farm portfolio Trois Sources & Lomont and Pennsylvania power network Duquesne Light Holdings.

It has now exited its previous investments in Brussels Airport, South East Water and Wales & West Utilities.