The threat of disruption at Spanish ports loomed once again this week after the lower house of parliament passed a new law to liberalise port labour practices and bring them in line with EU legislation.
Port worker unions agreed to cancel the first five days of their planned eight-day strike, due to start on Thursday, after reaching a framework agreement with port managers which includes accepting a wage cut of up to 10 per cent.
Antolín Goya of CETM, the country’s biggest stevedore union, said: “We will accept a national collective agreement – provided it guarantees 100 per cent employment”.
The union said it would not renounce all the stoppages until it has been assured that no jobs are in danger.
“We want to send a message of calm and stability to the sector. We are not going ahead with the strikes this week or the next to facilitate the negotiation process,” Goya said.
Union slowdowns in protest at the reform of the port law has already cost carriers millions of dollars.
With Spain’s citrus season now concluded, exports to the US are no longer under threat. However, if strikes do go ahead, it could impact stonefruit shipments to non-EU market, in particular South America and China, which opened up last year.