Unions Confirm Eight-Day Slowdown in Spain


Spain’s dockworkers union has confirmed a strike will go ahead next week over the government’s approval of a law that does not guarantee secure employment and reduces collective bargaining power.

Strikes could impact Spain’s major ports from May 24, 2017, until June 9, 2017.

Spain’s Council of Ministers’ ruled on May 12, 2017 in favour of labour reforms affecting the port industry but its parliament is yet to ratify the proposal.

Following a ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), Spain together with the European Union negotiated the reforms to align national laws to those of the EU.

In a judgement on December 11, 2014, (case C-576/13) the CJEU found that the obligations for Spain’s cargo-handling companies in ports to register with a ‘pool company’ (Dockers’ Management Public Limited Liability Company), to hold shares in the company and to prioritize hiring workers provided by the company to ran counter to EU law on freedom of establishment.

A new law liberalizes the stevedore profession by removing the private enterprise pool company that employers must go through to employ stevedores and allow collective bargaining.

Unions say this will encourage “massive dismissals” while putting workers in less attractive conditions.

General Coordinator for the union, Antolín Goya, said the rule is clearly not only executing EU law but “goes much further” than the CJEU requires.

But he recognizes some positive aspects of the law, such as training for a specific period in ports, the maintenance of port stevedores' areas of action, and the abolition of a subsidy for temporary contracts.

Goya said: “We believe that the Government is wrong in the forms and content and what it poses as a guarantee for the continuity of employment is a conflict in the posts. If that happens, we intend to hold the Government responsible, as it is the only culprit.”

Maersk Line in the past has created contingency plans to reroute vessels and minimise the disruption caused by Spanish port workers as they launch strikes on the matter.

The International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) thinks the Spanish government’s proposal is in breach of ILO (International Labour Organization) Convention 137.

Technical Paper: EU Maritime Logistics

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