Europe's dockers set July strike dates

19 Jun 2017
European dockers are protesting in solidarity

European dockers are protesting in solidarity

The International Dockworkers Council (IDC) has announced plans to hold a Europe-wide strike in solidarity with Spanish dockers’ protests against liberalising reforms to Spain’s dock labour system.

The two-hour stoppage, agreed at the Council’s European Zone Assembly held in Slovenia on June 8 and 9, will see dockworkers across European ports walk out of their jobs from 1000 hrs to 1200 hrs on June 29.

The IDC’s industrial action, as well as offering support to Spanish dockers, is in direct protest to policies agreed upon by the European Commission.

The IDC move comes in light of protests against Spain’s reform measures concerning the hiring of dockworkers, which were approved by the country’s parliament on May 18.

A 48-hour strike was held by Spanish longshoremen on June 14 and 15 after negotiations between employers and workers regarding the implementation of the new regulations broke down over a dispute regarding the safeguarding of 6,000 jobs.

According to worker union UGT, dockers will hold alternate strikes for 48-hour periods between June 26 and 28, June 29 and July 1, July 3 and 5 and July 6 and 8.

Further industrial action has already been set for June 19, 21 and 23.

Spain’s new regulations aim to tackle the country’s system of closed-shop docker hiring, a practise ruled as violating the EU’s freedom of establishment principle by the European Court in December 2014.

In July last year, the country was fined E15.6m for failing to change the system and is being hit by daily penalties of E27,500 until it complies with the court’s ruling.

Foreign trade plays a crucial role in Spain’s economy and has been important for its recovery over the last four years.

Around 80% of the country’s imports and 60% of exports pass through Spanish ports.

The IDC has also announced plans to re-join the European Commission’s Sectorial Social Dialogue Committee to push for equal treatment for all dockworkers, as well as to devise a strategy to support dockworkers in Gothenburg in Sweden following alleged threats to their job security from large maritime corporations.

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