Spanish port workers have delayed the start of strike action in protest at the government’s new port reform law.
Unions announced over the weekend that the walkouts planned for this Monday and Wednesday (6 and 8 March) have been suspended but that Friday’s strike would go ahead, as they wait to see if the new law, which was approved by the Council of Ministers last week, is ratified by the Lower House on Thursday.
The government is pressing ahead with the reforms in order to avoid EU fines that already stand at €21.5m and will rise by €134,000 per day if they new law is not approved.
Exporters warned last week that strike action would put in jeopardy the progress made by produce companies in new export markets outside the EU.
“For fruit and vegetable exporters, the repercussions caused by a one-day strike are considerable as it can throw into chaos the operation of international services that have been agreed weeks in advance,” said José María Morote of Murcian grower-exporter association Proexport.
“If a ship doesn’t dock at a port on the scheduled date, shipments can be delayed for more than a week.”
Furthermore, the uncertainty generated by a strike can lead to refrigerated containers being diverted to other ports, causing a shortage when normal activity resumes.
According to Fepex, Spain exported 60,259 tonnes of fruits and vegetables by sea to the UAE in 2016 and a further 45,280 tonnes to Saudi Arabia, while shipments to Canada and China totalled 37,552 tonnes and 14,207 tonnes respectively.