Spain port strikes escalating
Ships are already omitting calls at the port of Algeciras.
Spanish dockworkers plan to strike for seven more days this month after Monday’s 24-hour walkout following the breakdown of talks between unions and port employers over the implementation of the government’s forthcoming waterfront labour reforms.
The strikes follow months of slowdowns that have sharply reduced productivity and stoked fears carriers will permanently shift some calls that are being rerouted to rival ports in Morocco, Malta, and Portugal.
Dockers will stop working on alternative hours tomorrow and on Friday, stage an all-out, 48-hour strike on June 14-15 and walk out every other hour on June 19, 21, and 23.
The dockers’ union called the strikes after failing to secure pledges from Anesco, the port employers’ organization, over safeguarding the jobs of more than 6,000 workers it fears are at risk when the government’s reforms are enacted.
The reforms, which secured parliamentary approval last month, will end “closed shop” union controlled hiring of dock labour to comply with a European Court ruling in December 2014 that the Spanish system breaches EU freedom of establishment.
Spain was fined 15.6 million euros (£17.6 million) last July for failing to comply with the court ruling and faces further hefty daily penalties until it changes the current system.
The government has proposed a three-year phase in of the new hiring system and offered up to 120 million euros to finance the early retirement of dockers.
The reforms will affect around 6,150 dockers in 46 Spanish ports, but most of the focus is on three ports — Algeciras, Valencia, and Barcelona, which employ 3,800 workers.
Manuel Mor?n, the head of the Algeciras Port Authority, has said the strikes “will completely shatter” Spain’s leading transshipment hub.
Maersk Line’s SL Illinois today omitted a call at Algeciras and is discharging cargo at Barcelona, and the MSC Ilona also cancelled a call at the port and discharged traffic at Sines in Portugal.
Maersk also diverted the 20,568 TEU Madrid Maersk, the largest vessel in its fleet, from Algeciras to the Moroccan port of Tangier ahead of Monday’s strike.
- ^ 24-hour walkout (www.joc.com)
- ^ waterfront labour reforms (www.joc.com)
- ^ [email protected] (www.joc.com)