Spain’s docks back in action after month-long strike

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SPAIN’S MORE than 6,000 stevedores called time on their month-long nationwide strike last Thursday in which they protested potential job losses in the wake of the ports reform.

The workers stopped striking after reaching a deal with employers that protects jobs but lowers salaries.

The ports reform was demanded by the European Union and passed through parliament in mid-May, deregulating the hiring of dock workers.

Under the previous system, domestic or foreign companies could only hire workers to load and unload ships in Spain from specific, already-established organisations that provide personnel and no other firms.

The ports reform allows companies to contract workers wherever they want – which employers argue will increase the competitiveness of Spanish ports.

Unions argued the ports reform threatened jobs.

A meeting in Madrid between labour unions and industry association Anesco ‘resulted in an agreement between the parties’, the two sides said in a joint statement.

Anesco member firms have pledged to protect the jobs of ‘100 percent of the workers’ who load and unload ships at Spanish ports, the statement added.

In exchange for keeping their jobs the unions accepted a reduction in the wages of the dockers of ‘up to 10 percent’, a member of the UGT Estiba union told the Spanish press.

The strike caused losses of around €12 million per day, according to the government.
Some container shipping companies rerouted cargo due to the strikes, opting for Portugal, Morocco or Malta instead.

Over 60 per cent of Spain’s exports pass through its main ports, particularly in the food and auto sectors, which are key engines for growth.

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