IDC Cancels Worldwide Strikes to Enable New Talks in Spain

The International Dockworkers’ Council (IDC) has called off strikes planned for March 23, which were previously scheduled to be held in ports around the world, to enable new negotiations in the Spanish port sector. 

The move follows the decision from March 16 of the Spanish parliament to reject the royal decree on the port system reform. The decree, which was supposed to put thousands of dockers’ jobs at risk, was presented by the country’s Ministry of Public Works earlier this year.

In the words of Jordi Aragunde, IDC General Coordinator, “this (the parliament’s decision) is a step forward, but also a great opportunity given to us (dockworkers) by the opposition parliamentary groups. Dockworkers, together with the government and employers, can come to an agreement on the best conditions for the remodeling of the Spanish Port Model and for complying with the ruling of the European Court of Justice.”

Aragunde thanked IDC affiliates around the world and “their constant show of support for the workers of Spain and the actions they carried out which brought great pressure to bear internationally, and in Spain,”

IDC hopes to return to the EU’s Sectoral Social Dialogue process as soon as the issues faced by Spanish workers are resolved and the new regulation is in operation.

“We informed European Commission representatives of this at the meeting held on Monday, March 13. But to reach this point, it is necessary to ensure that all the points that were not prohibited by either the European Commission or the ruling of the European Court of Justice are transferred to the new Spanish law,” Aragunde said.

In this sense, union representatives will go to the meeting with these parties to demand the carrying over of their current contracts and the inclusion of a professional registry of dockworkers, in accordance with the international regulations included in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 137.

Spain has ratified this convention and, as pointed out by the heads of the European Commission in various meetings with workers’ representatives, Brussels does not oppose it.

“Once this conflict in Spain is solved, problems remain in other countries where IDC members are established, such as those in Latin America, Africa, Sweden, Portugal, and the United States – which we will offer our support to in coming weeks,” Aragunde concluded.

Aragunde has been invited to attend the High Level Ministerial Stakeholders Road Safety and Maritime Conference to be held on March 28 and 29 in Malta, a country which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency position. The meeting will include the representatives of the Transport Ministers from all of the EU’s 27 member nations as well as with European Commission representatives led by the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc.

In Malta, the Declaration of Valletta that deals with maritime safety, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability is also set to be discussed and adopted. The presence of all EU Transport Ministers at this meeting will enable the European Commission to clarify its position and the real role it intends to adopt in relation to the ports and maritime sector in coming years, according to IDC.