Dockworkers call off Spain port strikes, head back to table

Dive Brief:

  • A series of port strikes by the International Dockworkers Council (IDC) was canceled last week after the Spanish parliament failed to pass a port reform, which the council opposed, various sources reported.
  • The reform would have updated a Spanish law that currently requires all laborers to be part of a stevedores' union before being employed by a terminal, and the reform calls to remove such restrictions. The European Court of Justice had imposed a fine upon Spain for its labor restriction, reason for which the government sought change.
  • But the issue proved more complex as workers protested such a move, rejecting all government proposals for reform to date. Absent union approval, parliament sought to pass the law, but unions reacted by threatening strikes. The government's recent failure, El Pais reports, leaves the issue unresolved.

Dive Insight:

The issues surrounding dockworkers, ports and government appear to span the world and, like in the U.S., a national port strike could have been devastating for the economy and global supply chains.

Supply Chain Dive previously reported work stoppage at the Port of Algeciras over this issue would have spanned nine days and affected seven weekly services. The national nature of this issue could have, and can still, easily extend to have greater repercussions, particularly for companies sourcing from Europe.

In the meantime, supply chain managers should breathe easy as the dockworkers and government representatives will return to the negotiating table. However, such efforts have failed in the past and, with recent unilateral action failing, dockworkers will be emboldened in their demands. The Spanish government is caught in a double bind of accepting perpetual fines from the European Union over its labor laws and disruption from its workers.

In either case, the incident shows supply chain managers must remain vigilant of labor affairs and in close communication with carriers and freight forwarders to adjust for global disruptions. The Spanish port strikes were a close call, but could have had wide repercussions for a globalized business world.

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Filed Under: Freight Procurement
Top image credit: Tom Taylor