Danish Maritime Officers file complaint with ITF on improper practices prior to Svitzer strike

Danish Maritime Officers (DMO) has Wednesday filed a complaint with the International Transport Worker’s Federation (ITF). The complaint concerns Danish union CO-SEA disclosing confidential union information to shipowners prior to an ITF collective action.

02. november 2022

The chairman of CO-SEA, Ole Philipsen, informed Maersk, Svitzer’s parent company, months in advance that ITF union affiliates were planning a strike against Svitzer in Australia. This information was disclosed by the chairman during a joint meeting with Danish Shipping, DMO, Danish Engineers Association, and the shipowners Maersk, Torm and Esvagt.

“The chairman of CO-SEA, Ole Philipsen, should withdraw from his position as formal and informal ITF-representative of seafarers for example during collective bargaining agreements. His actions are in direct violation of his responsibilities towards ITF, the Danish unions and the seafarers,” says Jens M. Sorensen, navigator and chairman of the union Danish Maritime Officers.

Sorensen emphasizes that he saw no indication at all that Maersk welcomed or acted upon the information.

“It is not my impression that the shipowners used this information, and nobody had any follow-up questions. But I was shocked to see that a union representative would display this kind of disloyalty to the seafarers and the union movement,” he says. 

The information regarding the planned strike was leaked during a meeting of the ‘DIS Contact Committee’ (a committee of Danish maritime unions, shipowners and the Danish Shipowner Association that meets on a regular basis to discuss all matters maritime) on 13 December 2021.

Minutes of the meeting

According to the minutes of the meeting, Philipsen announced that ‘Svitzer seems to be up against the ITF who are trying to make life miserable for them and followed up this statement with disclosing ITF plans to orchestrate a strike among the Australian Svitzer employees, according to Sorensen.

Sorensen since had confirmation from former DMO Chairman, Bjarne Cæsar Jensen, that this kind of behavior from Philipsen was a regular occurrence.

CO-SEA receives around 5,000,000 DKK (around 660,000 USD) a year from Danish shipowners to be the Danish union representative when the shipowners negotiate collective bargaining agreements with unions from other countries, like India or the Philippines.

“The trust that other unions have placed with the chairman of CO-SEA, is unfortunately deeply misplaced,” Sorensen says.


Head of Communication and Media, Rasmus Nord Jorgensen, phone +45 21680421, e-mail rj@ledernesoefart.dk

About Danish Maritime Officers:
The labour union Danish Maritime Officers is the largest union in Denmark for maritime officers. The organisation has around 2500 active members – mainly navigators and captains.