Stevedore strike affects the activity in the Port of Barcelona

The CEO of the Port of Barcelona, Sixte Cambra, warned that it may negatively affect the country’s economy

100 stevedores out of the 1,100 in the Port of Barcelona worked due to the strike (by ACN)
100 stevedores out of the 1,100 in the Port of Barcelona worked due to the strike (by ACN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

June 8, 2017 09:19 PM

After Monday’s strike in the Port of Barcelona, a new strike began on Wednesday. Only approximately 100 stevedores out of the 1,100 in the Port of Barcelona worked on Wednesday, which caused delays in the transportation of goods. At the European Sea Ports Organization’s (ESPO) annual conference, celebrated in Barcelona earlier this month, Sixte Cambra, Port of Barcelona's CEO, warned that the strike may negatively affect the country’s economy.

At the same time, Violeta Bulc, the EU Commissioner for Transport, urged “social and positive dialogue” in order “to manage such a complex matter”, while arguing that if they do not “end up with an agreement, everyone will lose”. The strike affects all Spanish ports and more than 6,000 stevedores. The Spanish Government decreed minimum services when it comes to goods with an expiration date and also regarding passengers and cruises at the ports.

The stevedore strike particularly affected container transport and therefore made the affected shipping workers uncomfortable. The most affected ones were the drivers who had to load goods at the port. “The loaded trucks cannot unload and the empty ones cannot get loaded,” complained a driver at the entry of the Port of Barcelona. “It is always us drivers who have to pay the price,” added one of his colleagues. “I go back empty, I was told to wait until the afternoon, but they haven't guaranteed that I can load then either,” complained another. Meanwhile, his colleague said that they had all decided to go 100 km further south to the Port of Tarragona.

The stevedore protest came after the negotiations with the sector’s trade association, Anesco, broke down. The stevedores accuse Anesco of not guaranteeing the workers continuity after the sector reform approved by the Spanish Congress. If the negotiations between the two parts do not advance, the strike calendar includes a 48-hour strike starting this Friday, June 9, and three more days of work stoppage on June 19, 21 and 23.

The stevedore reform, passed by the Spanish Congress in February, means suppressing the current set of management rules for the workers for the provided port service. In this way a series of articles in the Spanish Ports Law and the Marina Merchant were abolished. Until now, the legal framework in which the port service of goods handling was developed violated article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The Spanish government has to pay fines due to their delay of liberalizing the stowage sector. With respect to that, EU Commissioner Bulc argued that they are waiting for the European justice’s decision and they will “act in accordance with the decision. Right now, the clock has stopped,” she said.