Productivity at Spanish Ports Declines by Up to 70 Pct

Image Courtesy: Port of Algeciras

Productivity at Spanish ports has taken a major blow amid the ongoing industrial action taken by the country’s stevedore unions.

In some cases there is up to 70% decrease in the work pace of stevedores and unloading of ships, the country’s employers’ association Anesco said.

According to the association, the “selective production cuts” are causing considerable economic loses for companies, and the transport sector in general.

Spanish Ministry of Public Works informed that the first week of strikes cost the country over EUR 36 million, about 12 million for each day.

Out of EUR 12 million, EUR 2.5 million corresponded to land transport, EUR 5 million to stevedores and the rest was divided between tugs, pilots, licensees of commercial services and logistics operators.

However, a greater damage is being done to the reputation of Spanish ports, according to the Minister Íñigo de la Serna, as numerous companies are diverting their calls from the country’s ports, including shipping conglomerates such as Maersk.

So far, Maersk Line is said to have withdrawn 15 calls from the country, including the maiden call of Madrid Maersk, hurting the port of Algeciras the most, which will in turn most likely be left with half a million less movements than it had planned.

Anesco said the slowdowns were being employed as a means of pressuring companies into further negotiation with the unions.

Spanish dockworker unions launched a nation-wide strike on Monday, June 5, impacting operations across the country’s 39 cargo 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, which is over 6,000 stevedores.

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

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.

Last week, Anesco called on the unions to resume dialogue and stop the strikes and productivity slowdowns.

Spanish media reported that the parties are expected to return to the negotiating table on Tuesday in order to hammer out a deal that would result in resuming of normal operations across the country’s ports.

Jose Antonio from Coordinadora said that the union would be entering the talks with the best intentions.

“We want to avoid more stoppages, they are not good for anyone.”

Should the talks fall through, the unions would resume with plans to strike this week as well, from June 14th, 0800 hrs till June 16th 0800 hrs. In addition, dockworkers said that they would stop work at odd hours on June 19th, 21st, 23rd, resulting in only 50% of workable time.

World Maritime News Staff

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