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Spain Dockworkers Protest Labor Reform

Spain Dockworkers Protest Labor ReformSpain Dockworkers Protest Labor Reform

Activity in Spain’s ports was intermittent Monday as dockworkers began a three-day strike to protest layoffs stemming from an effort to liberalize the industry in line with European Union rules.

Parliament passed a bill in May to end a decades-old monopoly by a workers’ association on who gets employed to load and unload cargo at the country’s 46 ports, AP reported.

The government had been facing hefty EU fines for not reining in the restrictive practices earlier.

Ports handle 86% of Spain’s imports and 60% of its exports. The strike is expected to have a noticeable impact on the economy.

The main national union said that most of the 6,150 dockworkers had stopped working Monday as planned, every other hour. Strikes are also scheduled for Wednesday and Friday this week.

Protests will seriously disturb the shipping lines and country’s trade, expecting to increase the lead time of the containers. Many container lines already announced their customers were skipping smaller Spanish ports this week in case to prevent any delays and going out of schedule due to the congestion and strike actions.

The prolonged industrial action could be painful for the country’s automobile industry and chemical sector, and ruin fruit and vegetable cargoes.

Port workers in Spain already announced several strikes, putting under pressure the shipping companies and exporters, but later cancelled them after getting a preliminary agreement with authorities. However, the talks broke down last week and trade unions announced that they will go ahead with the remaining three days of strikes.

Earlier, Spanish parliament proceeded with implementation of the long-delayed reform to bring port regulation closer to that of the European Union. The new law aims to permit the companies and operators to choose their own staff rather than being bound by union-approved lists. This will risk the jobs of thousands of people.

 

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