Looming Docker Strike

MOT Port Strikers OnLMotril has 30 dockworkers, 18 of whom are permanent and 12 who have provisional work contracts, having been brought in owing to the port expansion – they could all be out on strike.

As the strike looms, they ask people not to take their high wages into account, as they do not come from the public purse.

What has caused the problem is a European directive that obliges the Central Government to change the closed-shop nature of the sector. This would mean that the dockworkers could lose up to 40% of their salaries.

The Central Government has decided to delay the approval of the decree that would impose the European directive – which averted the dock strike planned for the 20th, 22nd and 24th of February – but the problem is far from over.

What has brought this showdown is that the EC referred Spain to the European Court of Justice (April 2016) for failing to comply with a previous S.C. judgement concerning freedom of establishment at Spanish ports; i.e., the existing obligations for cargo-handling companies in Spanish ports to register with a ‘pool company’ and to hold shares in that company, employing as a priority workers provided by that company – this goes back to Franco’s days.

The Government will have to bring the new law into affect if it does not want to fall foul of Strasbourg, meaning there will probably be a nationwide dock strike. For Spain to disobey would incur multi-million-euro fines.

The Motril Port representative of the Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (CETM), José Manuel Principal, says that the salaries at the port are not very high; its the salaries that exist outside the sector that are very low. He was referring to the present situation across the land with the proliferation – dominance, even – of short-term jobs, poorly paid, as well as part-time jobs which are really full-time because of the real hours worked.

He also believes that the Central Government is using the excuse of having to change conditions to introduce their own agenda which would make it possible to sell port concessions to China, as has been the case in Greece.

A nationwide port strike would paralyze the country’s import & exports, and the dockers’ union knows it so they have the Central Government over a barrel – the question is, how long will it last and what will be the extent of the damage to the Spain’s convalescent economy.

However, there is little doubt that the Government and Spanish, dockworker union will find a way around it to let things be run as they always were, probably, in the case of the said union, to ‘convince’ individual shipping companies to sign individual, bilateral agreements.

(News: Motril, Costa Tropical, Granada, Andalucia)

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