Spain: Still No Deal on Port Reform Model between Dockers and Gov’t

No deal on the port reform model has been reached between Spanish stevedores and the government as the country’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport has not scheduled a meeting for this purpose.

Only a technical meeting has been convened between the legal services of port companies’ association Anesco and trade unions, according to a joint statement from unions Coordinadora and Federación de Trabajadores Portuarios (FTP).

An issue also arose concerning the “optimal number” of early retirements, which was set at 20% of the workforce, almost 1,400 workers, who are expected to receive a line of EUR 225 million from the government to cover their retirement. The unions voiced their disapproval of the figure, adding that they were not consulted on this.

After the last meeting held on March 8, dockers and their employers requested the government’s presence at the negotiating table as the only way to solve the conflict.

Last week, stevedores postponed the planned strikes scheduled for March 10,13 and 15 for another week in an attempt to reach an agreement.

The strikes are expected to take place on March 17, 20, 22 and 24.

The bill amending the Ports Act of 2010 was scheduled to be debated and voted on in plenary session in congress on March 9 but the matter has been pushed until March 16 in order for the opposition groups to submit their opinion.

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

The Spanish Council of Ministers approved a royal decree on the port system reform on February 24, 2017.

The new law, which is in line with the requirements of the European Union, will enable ports to hire non-unionized dockworkers instead of the unionized ones.

Moreover, under the new law, stevedoring companies will not have to be members of local stevedoring societies known as Sociedad Anonima de Gestion de Estibadores Portuarios (SAGEPs).

As a consequence of the reform plan, at least 6,500 dockworkers could be laid off in the future.

World Maritime News Staff

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