On Thursday, stevedores' unions in Spain called off the strikes that they had scheduled for Friday and Monday in order to resume talks with the Spanish port employers association, Anesco. The dockers want firm guarantees against layoffs in exchange for a ten percent pay cut, but after weeks of labor actions, Anesco has shown little sign that it is willing to accept their demands.
But the unions have already made significant headway: earlier this week, the operators of the three largest ports in the nation broke with Anesco and negotiated their own separate labor agreements. In Barcelona, four firms signed on Monday (Best, Setram, Coma and Ribas y Sammer). On Tuesday, in Algeciras, the unions signed with Maersk Group, its APM Terminals division and TTI Algeciras. On Wednesday, the dockers at Valencia reached an agreement with most of the port's operators and shipping companies.
A partial strike held Wednesday affected only those ports that had not yet signed, and by the end of the day, the individual deals also covered Seville, Baleares, Castellón, Gijón, Las Palmas, and Tenerife, according to Puertos del Estado. With these agreements completed, Anesco is now left to negotiate on behalf of smaller ports that handle much less traffic.
Even with an end to the disruption in sight, the Platform for Investors in Spanish Ports (PIPE) warned that the terms of these deals circumvent Spanish and EU labor reform efforts. "It once again eliminates the decision-making and management power of companies to control working conditions through coercion from the [unions]," PIPE said in a statement. A decree law recently approved by the Spanish parliament would allow port employers to substitute non-union longshore labor over a period of several years, in compliance with an EU court decision.