- Spanish dockworkers protesting government labor reforms will strike another seven days in June, JOC.com reported Tuesday. World Maritime News notes the strikes will affect 39 ports in the nation.
- The additional strikes follow failed negotiations between union leaders and port officials, over the number and pay by which stevedores will be employed upon the industry's liberalization, El Pais reports.
- Dockworkers have called for additional off-hour work stoppages on June 19, 21 and 23, plus a full 48-hour strike from June 14 to the morning of June 16. Workers are also performing scheduled stoppages Wednesday, June 7 and Friday, June 9.
The wave of protests and attempts at reform began when, in February, the Spanish government announced they would comply with the EU rules on free labor.
Ports currently employ stevedores on a union basis, much like the system in the United States. However, such a system had become costly for Spain. Non-compliance forced the country to pay a 15.6 million euro ($17.6 million) fine in 2016, and JOC.com reports the EU would impose additional, daily fees until the laws were changed. Hence, the urgency for a reform.
But the Spanish government found a formidable foe in the dockworkers' unions. El Pais reports 6,100 stevedores work in Spain's 46 ports, and their continued protests since February have caused major ports' productivity to fall between 15% to 20%. Carriers with import and transshipment operations, like Maersk Line, have consequently had to reroute or delay shipments, as Supply Chain Dive previously reported.
Shippers in the U.S. with imports from Europe, or with goods transshipping there, may see delays throughout June. Contingency plans have been published, but strikes tend to have ripple effects.
Fortunately, the months-long issue appears to be coming to an end. The government succeeded in passing a reform in May, after which the stevedores and their port employers began talks on how to transition. In fact, as of May 23, an agreement had been reached — but El Pais reports employers' attempts to potentially alter a 10% pay decrease based on specific ports' needs caused the negotiations to break down.
If these strikes succeed in changing terms, as they are intended to do, it may be the final step. In the meantime, shippers should stay in touch with their carriers to see how their products may be affected.