Europe-wide strike action delayed

Maersk Lines has announced it will reduce its presence in Algeciras Credit: Michelle Bartsch Maersk Lines has announced it will reduce its presence in Algeciras Credit: Michelle Bartsch

The International Dockworkers Council has delayed its Europe-wide day of strike action in solidarity with Spain until March 23.

Originally the strike was due to take place on 10 March and is a follow on from continued labour disputes at Spanish Ports.

The disruption in Spain is due to government plans to reform the Spanish Ports Act and change its existing labour system to meet new European Union regulations.

"The Spanish Government threatens the growth of the Spanish economy and seeks to make the dockworkers’ profession disappear from the country’s ports,” said Jordi Aragunde, general coordinator of the IDC.

He added: "Spanish ports are growing. The workers' wages are also growing... and the Ministry of Public Works intends to act on a decree that prevents the country's economic recovery. With a unilateral measure like the one they intend to carry out, they will succeed in weighing down positive numbers and the recovery of the foreign trade in Spain as a whole."

The IDC told Port Strategy that the decision to delay the strike was made on 8 March in a meeting between the IDC and ITF/ETF. The postponement means the workers will give more time for the Spanish Government to enter into negotiations to solve the conflict.

A desire from the government to reform the Ports Act comes in response to the country being fined €15.6m last July for failing to comply with a European Court ruling – this means it has faced a daily penalty of €134 until it changes the dock labour system.

The dockers’ union claims the reform will cost over 7,000 people their jobs across Spain.

But the slowdown at ports, which began on 15 February, due to the conflict is already having a strong effect on the ports involved with it being reported that the Port of Valencia has already lost over €30m.

With port strikes still looming and slowdowns continuing, many operators are warning shippers that cargo will be re-routed or diverted to avoid the ports in Spain.

Maersk Lines has announced it will reduce its presence in Algeciras during the period of strikes and will aim to use alternative ports in Europe and the Mediterranean.

The company’s statement said: “These actions will cause a serious impact on cargo flows in and out of Spain and more widely to our global network, especially due to the strategic importance of the port of Algeciras as a major transhipment port for cargo moving to/out of Europe, Africa and many other destinations.”

It added: “With this in mind, we would like to advise you of a contingency plan we have put in place to minimise the disruption caused to your business and to ensure we are able to deliver your cargo as promised in a most timely manner possible under current circumstances. The plan is based on the reduced presence in Algeciras during this period and use of alternative ports in Europe and Mediterranean to ensure that we are able to reroute the cargo in the most efficient way. You may therefore experience vessel rerouting, port omissions and additional transhipment of your cargo.”

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