- The International Dockworkers' Council called for a Europe-wide, two-hour port stoppage from 10 a.m. to noon on June 29 to demonstrate support for Spain's stevedores, The Loadstar reports.
- Spain's stevedores have been in a political battle against the country's port employer association over their right to exclusive labor and pay since February. Last week, the workers organized a full two-day strike, bringing dozens of Spanish ports to a halt.
- The IDC's call for a Europe-wide work stoppage follows a decision by Spain's port employers' association (ANESCO, for its acronym in Spanish) to reject a new deal from the laborers. ANESCO claims the workers' proposal had three clauses which would subject employers to fines of up to 10% of revenue for violating legal norms.
The crisis that began with the European Union (EU) is about to come full circle, as dockworkers in Spain use their union affiliations to threaten the whole Union's economy in order to gain leverage.
The underlying issue affecting Spain began last year, when the EU charged the country a 15.6 million euro ($17.6 million) fine for restricting port labor to union membership. In February, Spain announced it would attempt to comply with EU regulations in order to avoid future fines, thereby changing its laws governing port employment.
Unsurprisingly, dockworkers protested this change with work stoppages. At first, the movement succeeded in stopping reform. However, the government's agenda eventually prevailed, leaving dockworkers no choice but to negotiate a new deal with their employers. The matter appeared settled as of May 23, when the two parties agreed on new terms of negotiations.
But a misunderstanding disrupted progress and, as of the first week of June, dockworkers again went on strike, claiming their employers were backing out of a deal. This culminated in a two-day strike last week, and further off-hour work stoppages this week, which El Pais reports has so far delayed 34 ships away from Spain.
Hope prevailed at the end of last week, where ANESCO would accept new terms and put an end to the transportation crisis. However, a failure to do so threatens to extend risk into July, and spread the protests to Europe. Depending on the dockworker turnout, the IDC protest could prove disastrous to the EU's economy.
In addition to the IDC's call, dockworkers in Spain are planning an additional wave of partial strikes from June 26 to 28, June 29 to July 1, July 3 to 5, and July 6 to 8, according to El Pais.