Government’s ‘sabotage’ forces Spanish dockers’ unions to strike

24 Feb 2017

The ITF and the ETF, along with their members FSC CCOO and FESMC UGT, condemn the Spanish government’s refusal to be part of the negotiations in the dispute over port labour reform, as the dockworkers’ unions announce strikes from 6 March.  

The unions had agreed to suspend strikes planned for 20, 22 and 24 February following the announcement on 15 February that the presentation of a royal decree on the reforms would be postponed so that negotiations could take place between unions and employers, with government mediation. 

The negotiations began on 21 February between the Spanish employers’ association, ANESCO, and the unions and will resume on 28 February.  The unions have reported on the government’s ‘anti-democratic stance…which has sabotaged’ the talks. Today the government has presented the royal decree for approval by the council of ministers despite the ongoing negotiations. The unions describe the proposed law as ‘harmful to the Spanish port industry and extremely damaging to the legitimate rights of workers’. It also ignores agreements reached only recently between ANESCO and the unions. 

ETF dockers’ section chair Terje Samuelsen said: “This law seeks to aggressively and destructively liberalise the port labour market and goes even beyond what is required to put the system in line with EU rules. If our unions are forced to strike, we will support them and join forces with all other trade unions representing dockers.

ITF president Paddy Crumlin commented that the federations had hoped the government would see sense and reach an agreement with the unions and that instead it had lost the unions’ trust. He added that the dockworkers would not let these callous and dangerous reforms be steamrollered through and pledged that the ITF family would continue to back them. 

Many ITF/ETF unions have already shown their support for the Spanish dockers, and the federations are repeating their joint call for all their unions who organise dockers to send a letter to the Spanish Infrastructure Ministry, pledging to ‘take any lawful action that may be required to support the Spanish dockers’ if the government does not act. 

Read more: Show urgent solidarity for Spanish dockers  and Spanish port plans ‘beyond belief’.