Spanish Congress Dismisses Port Reform Plan

Image Courtesy: The Northwest Maritime Academy

The Spanish Congress has rejected the royal decree on the port system reform which was presented by the country’s government earlier this year.

This decision follows the infringement procedure opened by the European Commission and the consequential European Court of Justice’s judgment which ruled that the current stevedoring system in Spain violates the Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

However, the proposed reform “suppressed” the current stevedoring regime, the Spanish Congress said in a statement.

Proposed earlier this year, the new law was supposed to enable ports to hire non-unionized dockworkers instead of the unionized ones. This was expected to result in massive layoffs in the future.

Announcing strikes, a number of unions in Spain have expressed their dissatisfaction about the proposed reform. International dockworkers unions from neighboring countries said they would join the industrial action in support of their colleagues.

The country’s unions postponed the strikes several times, hoping that the Spanish Ministry of Public Works would engage in negotiations with workers to solve the conflict.

In a recently issued statement, the Spanish social partners have requested the government to engage in tripartite negotiations. However, the government has not yet responded to this request which makes it unclear what strategy the government will pursue.

Commenting on the rejection of the Spanish Congress to validate the reform plan, Terje Samuelsen, Chair of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF Dockers), said: “From the beginning of the dispute the Spanish unions have pleaded a negotiated reform, but the government arrogantly decided not to go for dialogue.”

“By marking the first defeat of this conservative government, dockers have confirmed their position at the forefront of the struggle for fair transport and for a more social Europe,” Eduardo Chagas, ETF Secretary General, pointed out after the vote.

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