Summary of the Shipbuilding Labour Group Meeting in Bergen, 1st /2nd October 2013


Summary, Seminar in Bergen, 1st /2nd  October 2013

Participants: Kari Teräs, Raquel Varela, Hans-Jakob Agotnes, Marcel van der Linden Johanna Wolf, Jan Heiret, Tobias Karlsson


Case studies



–        After 1945 restructuring of the shipbuilding industry – changing production: scale and types of ships, production system, organisation of work

–        Special: group formation, several yards merged and high-technological ships were developed like advanced fishing vessels – for example Aker Yards and Kvaerner

–        Late 1960s oil industry started and switch to offshore production, highly structured by policy of “Norwegianzisation”


–        What is characterising production? Did it change – from shipbuilding to oil industry? What happened to the workers?

–        Workers migration – phenomenon in general? Are they forced to migrate in Norway?


–        Speciality of Sweden: high rate of big ships like bulk and tankers

–        In the 1960s there were temporary agencies – Norwegian firms that hired workers from Portugal, Yugoslavia a.o.; considered as a huge problem by trade unions (discussion also in the European Metalworkers` Federation); temporary workers organized by themselves; core workers thought they got higher salaries/better conditions

–        Negotiations about the transformation of piece rates to monthly wages

–        Strategies to the oil price shocks in the 1970s: devaluations, subsidies, active labour market policies

–        Since 1970s segmentation of the labour market including increasing numbers of workers hired temporary

–        Difficulties in late 1960s to be followed by a short-lived boom period in the 1970s

–        During crisis in the late 70s: joint management-union initiatives to mobilise state subsidies and local political support


–        Differences between civilian ships – military ships: not all workers were allowed to work for military ships


–        There were also temporary workers – like subcontracted workers

–        Before II. WW no collective bargaining agreements, were only established in post-war period with difficulties

–        Before II. WW Swedish management at Turku shipyard – brought several problems to only Finnish-speaking workers

–        Speciality of Finland: shipbuilding increase because of reparations to Soviet Union

–        Between “East” and “West” – latecomer on the periphery of the centre?

–        During crisis “rescued” by orders of the Soviet Union

–        Already in 1970s challenge to special-purpose vessels like passenger ferries, icebreakers


–        Careful with terminology, for instance: metal workers – iron workers

–        Different compared to other Scandinavian cases: crisis in late 80s: because of crisis in Soviet Union did not take place

–        Entanglements between Nordic countries: Finish bought Norwegian yards

West Germany

–        Literature speaks about a crisis in the shipbuilding industry in the 1970s onwards that led to a decline in West Germany – decline already appeared in the 1950s but was pushed backwards through several investments, like tankers, big bulk carriers, and finally containers

–        Literature speaks about a crisis in the workers representation that led to lost power concerning traditional acquirements like collective bargaining and participation in a regional and national framework

–        Highest employment rate in shipbuilding industry in 1958


–        Why did West German government not develop a specific strategy to a global shipbuilding market, insisted in short-term tanker and bulk building, and finally containerization without thinking about a long-term strategy

Similarities/ differences between cases:

–        Northern countries: high level production

–        Claim for 8-hour-days: already in the 19th century – Germany as model, worldwide campaign by trade unions

–        Huge negotiations about piece salaries (in all countries) – change form piece wages to hourly wages

–        Changes from casual work to stabile work

–        Subcontracting firms: early phenomenon, sometimes foreign firms, like in Sweden; subcontracting because of lack of skilled professionals, like in the 1970s in Finland; temporary workers often from foreign countries

–        Migration of workforce: caused several problems between core workers and immigrant workers (because of different wage costs), for example in Sweden; during boom period in early 1970s in Norway: many welders from Finland

–        Crisis – 1970s: crisis after boom, dependence on US and oil crisis, different strategies to crisis, exceptional case of Finland

–        Technological knowledge transfer: for instance in Finland technical cooperation agreement with Swedish Kockum shipyard in 1967 (earlier with German Germaniawerft in production of diesel engines in 1938); Norwegian managers who had studied in America and Sweden during war times

–        Transformation of the production process through introductions of several techniques (welding, block building) and impact on work situation (high skilled, division of labour)


Workers, Scholars, and Activists in Support of the Preservation of the Haliç Shipyard

Over the past 600 years, the Golden Horn has stood as a symbol of Turkey’s industrial legacy to maritime trade, technological innovation, and cultural heritage.  Threatened by land speculation and disregard for the Maritime Arsenal’s neighbourhoods, we stand in solidarity with the shipyard workers, trade unions, professional organizations and the local residents to protest and resist the further dismantling of the Haliç Shipyards and the Arsenal.


Although developers argue in favor of the benefits of yachting harbours, luxury hotels, and shopping centres, history has shown that the long term value of shipbuilding, maritime trade, and technical invention is more sustainable than the latest economic fad.  The Haliç Shipyards have survived wars, financial downturns, and earthquakes only to rise again better and stronger.  We hope this will be a new chapter in the Golden Horn’s history not the conclusion.


II Workshop shipbuilding and ship repair workers

inthesame boat picture

II Workshop
In The Same Boat: Shipbuilding and ship repair workers: a global labour history (1950-2010)”
International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam
22-26 May 2013
P.O. Box 21
May 22 (Wednesday)
Opening: IISH/Re-work/ Frits Loomeijer
Session 1 – 10:30h to 12:30h

Work, Workers and labour conflicts in the shipyard Bazán/Navantia, 1950-2010
José Gómez Alén (Fundación de Investigaciones Marxistas- Madrid)

Working Outside the Box: Shipbuilding, Shipbreaking, and Containterization in the United States, 1950-2000.
Robin Muhammad (Ohio University – USA)

Shipbuilding and ship repairs in Thailand during neoliberalism transition
Nicola Mocci (University of Cagliari –Thailand)

Lunch time (at IISH) – 12:30 to 13:30
Session 2 – 13:30h to 15:30h

The Situation of the “Bremer Vulkan” in the 1980s: an Example of the West German Shipbuilding Industry in the Second Half of the 20th Century.
Johanna Wolf (University of Leipzig)

The Development and Re-organization of Industrial Structures of the shipbuilding in Postwar Japan: A General Outline Takeshi Haragucho (Kobe University – Japan)

Evolution and development of Shipbuilding Industry in Maharashtra (India) from 1970s: Employer, Employee and Production perspective” S.M. Fahimuddin Pasha (Assistant Manager in Computer Society of India – India)

Coffee Break – 15:30 to 15:45
Session 3 – 15:45 to 17:45

The evolution of labor relations in Korean shipbuilding industry: A case study on the Hanjin Heavy Industries, 1950-2010 Wonchul Shin (Associate Professor Pusan National University Busan – South Korea)

An Overview of Labour in the British Shipbuilding and Ship repairing Industries in the Twentieth Century’
Hugh Murphy (Visiting Reader in Maritime History, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich – Great Britain)

Production and workers between tradition and innovation: Caneco and Rio Nave, two companies and one shipyard
Elina da Fonte Pessanha and Luísa Barbosa Pereira (Federal University of Brazil – Brazil)

Coffee Break – 17:45 to 18:00
Comments by Jan Lucassen 18:00 to 19:00

May 23 (Thursday)
Session 4 – 9:00 to 11:30

From boom to bust: Kockums 1950-1987
Tobias Karlsson (Lund University – Sweden )

Shipbuilding labour in Fincantieri
Valter Zanin (University of Padova – Italy)

Productive and organizational challenges of a State-owned enterprise. The case of Argentinean Shipyard Río Santiago
Juliana Frassa (University of La Plata – Argentine)

Forced Silence, Full Scale Fight, and Negotiated Peace: The Transition of Industrial Relations at the Hyundai Shipyard, 1972-2012
Jun Kim – National Assembly Research Service, Korea

Coffee Break – 11:30 to 11:45
Session 5 – 11:45h to 13:45h

The Norwegian shipbuilding industry 1950 – 2010: production systems, rationalization and labour relations
Hans-Jakob Ågotnes, Jan Heiret (University of Bergen-Norway)

Argentina shipbuilding industry: the State as problem and solution
Cintia Russo (Nacional University of Quilmes – Argentine)

Sestri Ponente shipyard. Workers, production and labour relations from 1950 until 2010
Giulia Strippoli, Davide Tabor, Luciano Villani (Italy)

Lunch time (at IISH) – 14:00 to 14:45
Session 6 – 14:45 to 6:45

Labour Force in Lisnave, Portugal: an overview Raquel Varela (IHC-Nova University of Lisbon / IISH)

Working in the Lenin Shipyard: Shipbuilding Industry in the People’s Republic of Poland in the 1970s and 1980s
Sara Graber (Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam – ZZF)

Shipowners and Politicians: Capital Accumulation and Labour Regime at the Desan Shipyard, Istanbul, Turkey (1991-2013) Asli Odman (Istanbul Health and Safety Labor Watch – Turkey)

From reparations to cruise ships. Productional changes and labour relations in the Turku shipyard, 1950-2010
Kari Teräs (University of Tampere – Finland )

Coffee Break – 17:00 to 17:15
Comments by Matthias Middell 17:15 to 18:30

May 24 (Friday)
Session 7– 9:00 to 11:00

French Saint-Nazaire’s shipyards from struggles of glorious postwar years to challenges of globalization age (1950-2010) Eric Kocher-Marboeuf

The Russian case – first results of an investigation
Matthias Middell – (CAS-University of Leipzig)

Shipbuilding industry in Portugal: Labour relations in Mitrena shipyard (1974-1995) Jorge Fontes (IHC- Nova University of Lisbon)

Coffee Break – 11:00 to 11:15
Session 8 – 11:15 to 13:15

Shipbuilding labour in China
Paula Nabuco (Fluminense Federal University – Brazil)

Against market rules. A shipyard nobody wanted (except workers) Ruben Vega Garcia (University of Oviedo – Spain)

Cockatoo Island, Australia – industry, labour and protest culture
Lisa Milner (Southern Cross University – Australia)

Lunch time – 13:15 to 14:00
Debates – 14:00 to 17:00

1- Debate on outlines of the second stage of the project: In the Same Boat? Shipbuilding and ship repair workers: a global labour history (1950-2010)

2- Define teams
Comments: Marcel Van der Linden
Coffee Break – 17:00 to 17:15

Workshop closure by Raquel Varela 17:15 to 18:30

Dinner in Amsterdam (offered by the IISH)

May 25 (Saturday)
10:00 – Excursion
6:00 – Drink at Boulevard Café



I Workshop Global Labour History in Perspective


Date/Time: Friday-Saturday, 22/06/2012 , 8:30am – 23/06/2012, 6pm
Location: University of Leipzig| Seminar Building | Room S202 | Universitätsstraße 3–5 | 04109 Leipzig
Organisation: Centre for Area Studies, Research Training Group „Critical Junctures of Globalization“ with the support of the Rosa- Luxemburg-Foundation and the Stiftung Menschenwürde und Arbeitswelt