Walkouts Planned across EU Ports to Back Spanish Dockworkers

As the Spanish government postpones voting on the port reform for another week, international dockworkers unions from neighboring countries are planning to join industrial action in support of their Spanish colleagues.

Namely, the bill amending the Ports Act of 2010 was scheduled to be debated and voted on in plenary session in congress on Thursday, as announced by the Minister of Public Works, Inigo de la Serna, however, the matter has been pushed until Thursday next week in order for the opposition groups to submit their opinion.

Political parties from the opposition have already voiced their disapproval of the royal decree on port reform the Spanish Council of Ministers approved on February 24, thus enabling the stakeholders to open a new dialogue on the reform.

As a result, Spanish dockworker unions,  Coordinadora, UGT, CCOO, CIG and CGT, said that they would call off the strikes scheduled for March 6 and 8 in order to continue negotiations on the port reform model.

The move was taken as a sign of goodwill, hoping to encourage the Ministry of Public Works to engage in “real” negotiations that would result in amending the bill before it is passed.

However, as tensions continue to heat up, the planned strike of Spanish trade unions announced as a response to the government’s reform plan according to which at least 6,500 dockworkers could be laid off in the future remains in place for March 10.

In line with the reform, the new law would enable ports to hire non-unionized dockworkers instead of the unionized ones and stevedoring companies would not have to be members of local stevedoring societies known as Sociedad Anonima de Gestion de Estibadores Portuarios (SAGEP).

Reacting to the Spanish government’s move, the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) said that it has arranged through its affiliates in neighboring countries’ ports to boycott unloading of Spanish cargo during upcoming dockworkers’ strikes in Spain.

” This day, to be held on March 10, will see ports in Europe stop work for three hours and ports in the rest of the world stop work for one hour. The IDC has met with leaders of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to coordinate this joint action,” the IDC said.

What is more, the IDC added that, together with its associated unions, it would ensure that the ports of neighboring countries will not be used for the unloading of cargo destined for Spain while Spanish dockworkers are on strike.

This includes IDC affiliates in Marseille-Fos, France and Lisbon, Portugal and the ITF affiliate in Tangier, Morocco. Portuguese unions will also call on dockers in the port of Lisbon to ensure that no Spanish cargo is unloaded in the southern Portuguese port of Sines.

“Furthermore, if this conflict is not resolved by the end of March, the IDC will investigate measures that will directly target Spanish foreign trade, both imports and exports. Solidarity actions will also be scheduled for workers at various Spanish embassies around the world, and IDC members are asked to anticipate the need to send representatives to Spanish ports to support the dockers there,” the union stressed.

World Maritime News Staff