Unite British Waterways Shop Stewards

Briefing Paper

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Save Our Canals.

British Waterways Strategy proposals for the next 10 years proposes a move towards a "third sector" national trust style organisation appears to have been approved by the ConDem alliance.

There was a genuine and strongly held view that the Board's plans would be detrimental to maintaining the UK's canal network as a vital part its heritage and would result in the an increased threat to our members jobs as a result of increased outsourcing of bank side work and the increased use of volunteers to carry out work normally carried out by our members.

As part of this strategy British Waterways proposed a pay freeze, which was been rejected by the unions.

In October's cull of Quangos, the Cabinate Office announced that this plan would be followed.



The 2012 International Eastbourne Tennis Event is sponsored by AEGON, the pensions company who claim to be "passionate about planning for the future".

Dutch dock workers and their families are victims of another of AEGON's passions: financial greed.

AEGON spent years on a business deal to pocket dockworkers' retirement funds. As a result, employers and employees of the port community lost £ 715 million of their retirement capital.

On the 23rd June Unite joined with the dutch dock workers in a protest outside the Devonshire Park in Eastbourne where the event took place.

During the protest members passed out tennis balls and literture to spectators hoping to attend the event but these were confiscated by officials at the ground before allowing them to attend.

Background to the dispute.

In 2007 AEGON acquired OPTAS, the pension firm of the seaport community. As a result AEGON walked away with £715 million  of retirement reserves of the port community (book value 2011). A capital purposely set aside with a legal earmark. It was 'restricted' for the pension benefits of the port community.

Immediately after the takeover by AEGON dockworkers and their employers cry out for justice. But AEGON rejects all claims. It speaks of its own 'free capital' and coldly puts the money on its corporate balance sheet and into its annual report.

To the seaport community AEGON declares: 'if you want your money back, go to the vendors of OPTAS. They are the ones who hold on to your restricted capital. We have paid them for it'.

Even today this is what you will hear AEGON say: 'The dockworkers are knocking on the wrong door.'

This is a deliberate misrepresentation. In 2011 the Dutch Supreme Court already corrected AEGON on this. According to the Court the restricted pension capital is in AEGON's hands. And even there it remains interconnected with dockworkers retirement benefits, the Court said. It may never be spend on anything else. The problem is however that AEGON cannot legally be forced to actually spend it on dockworkers pensions.

In other words: AEGON creatively got hold of 715 million pounds worth of dockworkers' pension money.

Port marine safety code


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Legislation and Guidance

We work nationally and internationally with our partners in the shipping industry to promote the safe construction, operation and navigation of ships. Details of ship regulations can be found here.

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Health and safety in ports

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The UK's ports are vital gateways for trade and travel. Over 388 million tonnes of international freight and 177 million tonnes of domestic freight moved through UK ports in 1999. Thirty-two million international passengers use UK ports each year. Another 38 million use them for domestic journeys, including river crossings. Our national economy needs a thriving ports industry.

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Port Skills and Safety

Expert Panels and Partnership Groups

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