Spanish Ports Hit by Nation-Wide Strike

Image Courtesy: IDC

Spanish dockworker unions have launched today a nation-wide strike impacting operations across the country’s ports.

According to the representatives of the Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora), a Spanish dockworkers union, almost 100 percent of workers supported the strike.

The workers are demanding that companies keep their employees and maintain the same working-conditions after the implementation of the port-reform.

Until now, the workers were hired through local stevedoring societies known as Sociedad Anonima de Gestion de Estibadores Portuarios (SAGEP). However, the new law would enable ports to hire non-unionized dockworkers instead of the unionized ones, potentially resulting in massive layoffs.

During today’s press conference, the union representatives said that, in their opinion, the main culprit for the ongoing situation is the government that put the companies in a privileged position.

At the moment, all dockworkers have an indefinite contract with their companies. Nevertheless, under the new regime, the companies would be given a choice to decide whether to keep them as employees or not.

During the recent talks between the union and Anesco, port employers’ association, the latter could not guarantee the security of 100 percent of those jobs, which prompted the stevedores to go ahead with their strike plans for this week.

The country’s ports could suffer considerable drop in traffic as shipping companies divert their cargo elsewhere due to strikes. Port statistics show that the port of Algeciras, the busiest in Spain, experienced a drop of 5.98 per cent in traffic so far in 2017.

Last week, Danish shipping major Maersk Line said that its latest fleet addition, the 20,568 TEU Madrid Maersk, would be omitting the port of Algeciras. Instead, the cargo would be discharged in Port Tangier for further connection to Algeciras.

The company’s ST Illinois will omit Algeciras APMT on June 6 and cargo will be discharged in Barcelona, while MSC Illona, employed on M2 TA5 service will omit Algeciras APMT and cargo on board will be discharge in Sines. Export cargo will be rolled to the next vessel voyage, Maersk Line added.

Reacting to the announcement, the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) asked “that all IDC members be aware of ships that may be diverted from Spain, and to not work accept these ships in their ports.”

“IDC will heed the strike advisory and will remain alert- with their full attention- in order to follow new developments of the Spanish situation. We will alert our IDC members to any future developments.

IDC will continue to support dockworkers everywhere in their struggle, and iterates their steadfast commitment to Coordinadora, who has demonstrated- yet again- strength in unity,” IDC said.

 “This dispute is representative of the worldwide attack on dockers and of union busting efforts dressed up as ‘progressive reform’. Port liberalisation of this kind is short sighted and damaging and we won’t accept it. We encourage all of our affiliates to take every action within the legal framework of their country to support Spanish dockers whenever requested by our Spanish brothers and sisters,” ITF president and dockers’ section chair Paddy Crumlin said.

The latest round of strikes is planned to be held on 5th, 7th and 9th of June for 12 hours. Further rounds of strikes are likely to follow should the stakeholders fail to reach a deal on the continuation of negotiations on the matter.

As informed by Maersk, as a result of strikes, gates opening will be subjected to yard’s congestion, and under this scenario regular opening timetable is not guaranteed.

World Maritime News Staff

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