The International Dockworkers Council (IDC) says a day of strike action planned for European ports on Friday will now take place on 23 March.
Last week the council called for European stevedores to stop work for three hours and those in the rest of the world for an hour, in solidarity with Spanish port workers who are in dispute with the government over planned reforms to the labour system.
“The Spanish Government threatens the growth of the Spanish economy and seeks to make the dockworkers’ profession disappear from the country’s ports,” IDC’s general coordinator Jordi Aragunde stated.
The IDC told Port Strategy that the decision to delay the strike was made on 8 March to give workers and the Spanish government more time to enter into negotiations to solve the conflict. The reforms are necessary to ensure the port sector complies with EU rules.
A slowdown implemented by Spanish workers since 15 February is already having a serious impact on the ports involved. The Port of Valencia has lost an estimated €30m since the start of the dispute.
Several operators are diverting cargo to alternative ports in a bid to minimise the disruption. Maersk Lines said it plans to reduce its services to Algeciras a reroute cargo to other ports.
The company said in a statement: “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.
“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.”