Spanish dock workers union

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syndicalistcat's picture
syndicalistcat
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Mar 19 2014 18:14
Spanish dock workers union

I have a question about the current situation of the Coordinadora in Spain, the Spanish dockworkers union. My question is, have they been able to maintain their non-bureaucratic, assemblyist practice?

A bit of background. At the time of the big strike wave that smashed the old fascist unions after Franco's death, the longshoremen in Barcelona conducted a strike through a mass assembly. They bashed in the doors to the union hall owned by the fascist union & seized it. Although that strike was for re-instatement of a docker who was a CP member, members of the CNT reportedly gained dominant influence over the movement. They persuaded the longshoremen to continue the assembly as a union. This was how the Coordinadora federation was formed, with autonomous local assemblies in each port. They followed the old CNT practice of attaching the national coordination committee to a locality, and thus having the workers in that locality elect it.

When the system of government established bargaining councils were established, they followed the practice of those sections of the CNT who eventually became the CGT. That is, they participated in the union elections. But they did not allow their elected delegates to receive the pay provided by employers & the state under the Spanish collective bargaining system. They are required to give the pay to the union. They did not want members to seek election for careerist motivations. They also had, as of the '80s, no paid positions whatsoever in the local port unions. The only paid position in the union was the national coordinator....a position that was rotated.

From what I had heard back in the '80s I gather they decided not to affiliate to CNT or CGT because they did not want to be drawn into factional disputes which would break the unity of the assemblies.

I do know that in the 2006 union elections in Spain the Coordinadora received 80 percent of the vote of dock workers in Spain. I also know that in recent years they have periodically paralyzed the ports in strikes. I believe the other 20 percent of votes in union elections has mainly gone to the Workers Commisssions & UGT. What I do not know is the degree to which they've been able to maintain the assemblyist control & absence of paid bureaucracy.

Mark.
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Mar 19 2014 19:56

It gets a mention here: http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=57085&p=595646&hilit=Coordinadora#p595646

I'm not sure if it helps much. I've looked for information on this before and not found a lot.

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syndicalistcat
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Mar 19 2014 20:14

Sounds like the assemblyist structures are still intact. Says they still have no liberados (paid officials) and refuse "subsidies" (pay to the delegates). The criticism there is that it has "been emptied of content". I take this to mean that they are not as overtly revolutionary as they were in the early years.

On the other hand, I have noticed that during the last few years when there have been attempts to form "revolutionary blocs" of the radical unions to left of the "pactist" Workers Commissions & UGT, which have usually involved the CGT & sometimes CNT, the Coordinadora has sometimes been listed in these blocs.

Salvoechea
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Mar 20 2014 10:20

In Spain there is a strong current of radical unionism not strictly anarchosyndicalist. It is made of different unions coming from other political and ideological background. Coordinadora is one of them. It has been living quite isolated from other unions since the 80s. In some general strikes it has no been part of them, remaining strictly in their workplace struggles. I think they might be kind of radical socialdemocrats, similar to STES (http://www.stes.es/) and SF (http://www.sindicatoferroviario.com/)

In recent years CGT is been gaining a small ground in some docks and shipyards (i.e. Valencia, Tenerife and Barcelona).

http://estibadores.cgtvalencia.org/
http://fetyc.cgt.es/category/mar-y-puertos/

Another radical union in Tenerife is also growing:
http://estibadores.cgtvalencia.org/2014/03/tenerife-deja-de-ser-100-coordinadora.html

CNT also has some members in a shipyard
http://puertoreal.cnt.es/es/secc-s-navantia.html

Mark.
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Feb 22 2017 15:53

New thread on alasbarricadas: http://www.alasbarricadas.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=20&t=61634

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Feb 22 2017 21:57

Here is a great 45 minute documentary on La Coordinadora, uploaded by the Swedish Dock Workers' Union (aside from the SAC the other large independent, radical union in Sweden)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg87F7q5YFc

Mark.
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Feb 23 2017 11:48

Report on the Coordinadora's current dispute with the Spanish government:

http://www.idcdockworkers.org/en/home/8-noticias/691-unions-around-the-world-press-spanish-government-to-negotiate-modification-of-the-stowage-system-with-workers

Mark.
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Mar 6 2017 19:34

The Coordinadora on facebook:

https://en-gb.facebook.com/CoordinadoraEstatalDeTrabajadoresDelMar/

According to this report nine strike days have been called, starting on the 6th March:

http://cadenaser.com/ser/2017/02/21/economia/1487701623_158495.html

Reuters report from a couple of weeks ago:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-ports-idUSKBN15O1J4

Quote:

Key export chains in Spain could face major disruption if a long-running dispute between the government and the country's dock workers extends beyond a planned three-day strike next week, industry sources warned on Thursday.

The standstill will take place every other hour on Feb. 20, 22 and 24 at dozens of Spanish ports which employ more than 6,000 stevedores and handle an estimated 500 million tonnes of merchandise a year.
...
The strike was called after the Spanish government announced plans to reform the sector that were unpopular with the unions. The overhaul would allow companies to hire their own personnel instead of unionized staff, who earn 70,000 euros per year on average according to a PriceWaterhouseCooper study.

The proposals aim to bring Spanish regulations into line with the rest of Europe. Spain has had to pay about 27,000 euros a day in fines since 2014 due to its failure to reform the system in line with European Union requirements, a government source said.

The fines could more than quadruple if the reforms are not implemented quickly as the EU punishes Spain for delays, the source said.

However, unions say the planned reform rips up the rules that govern Spanish ports and protect workers.
....

Support from Australia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGHPvphk9UQ

Mark.
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Feb 24 2017 11:47

A report from Tarragona on the conditions and pay of dock workers (in Spanish):

http://www.diaridetarragona.com/tarragona/81958/¿privilegiadosr-por-la-manana-ni-siquiera-sabemos-si-vamos-a-trabajar

Mark.
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Feb 26 2017 18:48

RTVE Informe Semanal - Estibadores: ¿Carga o descarga? - Spanish TV report on the legal and political background to the dispute:

http://www.rtve.es/m/alacarta/videos/informe-semanal/informe-semanal-estibadores-carga-descarga/3925966/?media=tve

Radio discussion about the dispute (starts at 13 minutes in):

https://www.spreaker.com/user/radiocable/lacafeterasosestibadores

Mark.
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Mar 6 2017 20:01

http://container-mag.com/2017/02/28/spanish-port-strikes-set-march/

Quote:

Port workers are set to strike for nine days in March after Spain’s cabinet passed a draft law to liberalise the hiring of port labour.

The planned overhaul would allow companies to hire their own personnel instead of unionised staff, with proponents claiming the current dynamics allow union workers to earn up to 50% more than they would in a free market.

Inigo de la Serna, the industry minister, said: “This is the only economic sector where there isn’t free hiring in our country.”

Spanish port workers had previously planned a three-day strike in February before the government confirmed it would put its port labour reforms on hold and instead open talks with unions.

Yet, as of the time of writing, the decision by the cabinet means strikes are set to begin from March 6.

Currently, the Spanish government is being hit by an ongoing fine from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over port labour practices.

In December 2014, the ECJ ruled that Spanish legislation on dock labour, in which cargo-handling companies are obliged to employ workers provided by a pool company as a priority, contravenes Article 49 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The court fined the Spanish government €15.6m (US$13.3m) last year for failing to implement changes, also adding a €134,000 (US$114,000) daily fine.

Failing to implement reforms will result in an increase in the daily fine, according to de la Serna.
....

According to this CGT report (in Spanish) the first two strike days have been suspended, so I think that means the first strike will be on Friday:

http://estibadores.cgtvalencia.org/2017/03/el-gobierno-impone-servicios-minimos-de.html
.

A long interview (in Spanish) with a CNT dock worker from Barcelona (edit: from a union branch organising 'amarradores', I'm not sure of the correct translation but the workers dealing with mooring ships, as opposed to 'estibadores'. I take it they wouldn't normally be organised by the Coordinadora or have the same employers. I don't know how this corresponds to the way ports work in other countries):

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=LQuinFT8u2s

.
Local press report from Algeciras on solidarity shown by local Coordinadora dock workers to other struggles:

http://www.elestrecho.es/2017/03/los-estibadores-algecirenos-se-convierten-simbolo-la-lucha-obrera/

Quote:

Mientras algunos siguen centrados en criticar su sueldo o su modelo de contratación, el gremio de la estiba algecireña se mueve por la ciudad apoyando a colectivos muchos más pequeños y que aunque también están en riesgo, nadie les había dado ‘bola’ hasta entonces.

El mismo apoyo que en los primeros días de conflicto el colectivo de estibadores del Puerto de Algeciras recibió desde todas partes del mundo, es el que ahora los propios estibadores algecireños están devolviendo a quien necesita repercusión mediática para que despidos injustificados o impagos salgan a la luz y aquellos afectados puedan resolver sus conflictos laborales.

En Algeciras existe una pequeña empresa llamada Reparaciones Algeciras, fundada en 1998 y que en estos días y tras un reguero de bajas debido a la precaria situación de impagos, cuenta en la actualidad con cinco trabajadores a los que se les adeuda un total de cuatro nóminas y sumando. Estos cinco trabajadores llevan dos semanas concentrándose en la puerta de la nave que dicha empresa posee en el Polígono Industrial del Cortijo Real.

La imagen hasta entonces había sido tétrica, los cinco trabajadores se nutrían de un minúsculo grupo de representantes sindicales con alguna que otra bandera de UGT, con una nula repercusión mediática. La historia cambió radicalmente para estos trabajadores, cuando el pasado jueves 2 de marzo hasta cien estibadores del puerto de Algeciras se presentaron a primera hora de la mañana para hacer piña, mostrar su apoyo y de paso hacer que todos los medios de comunicación hicieran público el caso de los trabajadores de Realsa: radio, prensa escrita, medios digitales e incluso televisiones a nivel provincial.
....

5 months without pay: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=N58zcAEUiWc

Mark.
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Mar 6 2017 00:24

https://www.munz.org.nz/2017/02/09/war-on-the-wharves-spanish-dock-workers-fight-government-absolute-extinction-agenda/

Quote:

Spanish ports are battening down the hatches, bracing for massive union strikes against a right-wing government determined to impose casualisation at any cost.

Thousands of dock workers face the sack, to be replaced by low-paid casuals as temping agencies are allowed for the first time onto the waterfront.

“The Spanish government is tearing up the rule book with a callous disregard for Spanish jobs, Spanish prestige and international conventions,” says International Transport Workers Federation leader Paddy Crumlin.

“Their plans go beyond belief.”

According to the International Dockworkers Council, “their plan is to fire Spanish dockworkers at a rate of 25% of their full strength each year, which means an absolute extinction of their employment within three years.”

Some of Spain’s port employers are already licking their chops, telling PortStrategy.com that under the “free market” system of their dreams they can slash pay in half.

Other employers are less pleased, asking angrily why a full-frontal attack on labour laws is announced just weeks after successful negotiations established a new agreement for the years to come.

Barcelona port worker and IDC Coordinator Jordi Aragunde says “The Spanish government… seeks to make the dockworker profession disappear from national ports.”

“We feel cheated,” says Antolín Goya, leader of the Coordinadora port worker’s union.

Across Spain, mass meetings of dock workers have voted loudly and angrily to resist this attack.

Strike action will hit all of Spain’s ports on the 20th, 22nd and 24th of February.

“Hopefully there is still time for the government to walk away from this rash proposal and instead engage in negotiations,” says ITF maritime operations coordinator Jacqueline Smith.

“On behalf of ITF unions worldwide we counsel it to do so.”

What’s at stake?

Under the current system, Spanish ports require employers to give preference when hiring to dockers who are part of a local register of qualified workers, known as a SAGEP.

The SAGEP is funded by contributions from companies providing cargo handling services, who are required to be involved if they wish to use Spanish ports.

Unions work within the SAGEPs to ensure their members have secure jobs and pay commensurate with both their skills and the sacrifices they make working in a dangerous industry.

The proposed changes will replace this system with one in which temping agencies and global corporations compete to lower wages and claw back conditions.

Spanish ports are doing exceptionally well under the current system, with the port of Valencia handling a record 4.72 million twenty-foot-equivalent units last year.

The port of Barcelona increased its container traffic in the same year by 14.5% to 2.2 million TEUs.

Why now?

Spain is a member of the European Union, which has the power to force policies on member states that override their sovereignty and go against the wishes of their people.

In December 2014, the European Court of Justice declared the Spanish port employment system is against EU law.

The EU imposed a 15.6 million euro fine in July 2016. Years of governmental gridlock in Madrid had put a showdown with maritime unions low on the agenda.

Since then there have been additional daily fines of 134,000 euros.

http://www.nasaships.com/SitePages/NasaNews.aspx

Quote:

Spanish ports workers have suspended the previously announced strike dates for March 6th and 8th. Strikes action to commence starting March 10th, 2017 as follows:

· Week 10 - March 10th – every other hour starting at 8:00AM

· Week 11 - March 13th, 15th, 17th every other hour starting at 8:00AM

· Week 12 – March 20th, 22nd, 24th every other hour starting at 8:00AM

· Bilbao Port will strike on the above days for 24 hour periods starting at 8:00 AM.

The protests continue to stem from European regulations to reform the country’s port labor system, ending restrictive practices surrounding dock labor.
....

Mark.
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Mar 6 2017 12:22

Report on marxist.com:

https://www.marxist.com/spanish-dockers-strike-the-popular-party-destroys-the-rights-of-dockworkers-to-benefit-big-business.htm

Mark.
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Mar 6 2017 17:03

Interview (in Spanish) with a Coordinadora spokesperson from Gran Canaria, on the negotiations and the suspension of strike days this week:

http://www.coordinadora.org/noticias/nacional/14817-en-diez-anos-nos-hemos-bajado-el-sueldo-tres-veces-y-la-leche-cuesta-lo-mismo

Blog post (in Spanish) from a teacher in Valencia on 'why I support the dock workers and why you should too':

http://jsmutxamel.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/por-que-apoyo-los-estibadores-y-por-que.html?m=1

TV report (in Spanish) from Cartagena, including support from Podemos:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CGTMk5d3S_8

Mark.
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Mar 7 2017 21:59

Time-lapse video of graffiti art on a container at the port of Algeciras. The finished result is shown at the top of the Coordinadora facebook page, and also here.

¡Ni un paso atrás! https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=m2VPp3j5LAQ

.
Carnival in Algeciras: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bR1QsS7ExHA

.
The propaganda war: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VlGPfpjnIEs

Mark.
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Mar 6 2017 20:50
altemark wrote:
Here is a great 45 minute documentary on La Coordinadora, uploaded by the Swedish Dock Workers' Union (aside from the SAC the other large independent, radical union in Sweden)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg87F7q5YFc

I've only just got round to watching this but really it's essential for understanding the history of dock workers' organisation in Spain. The current dispute is clearly just the latest round in a conflict that has carried on intermittently since the death of Franco.

Here's an academic paper on the Coordinadora from 1989:

Peter Waterman - Between the old international labour communications and the new: the Coordinadora of Spanish dockworkers

https://repub.eur.nl/pub/18927/wp61.pdf

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Steven.
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Mar 6 2017 18:11

Thanks for all these updates, Mark!

Mark.
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Mar 11 2017 10:37

The view from the UGT and CCOO:

http://mail.statik.be/t/r-C664DA4285898E9A2540EF23F30FEDED

According to the marxist.org article above: "Union representation is held by the Coordinadora with 74%, UGT with 16%, CCOO with 8%, with smaller positions held by CGT, LAB, ELA, CIGA." LAB and ELA are Basque nationalist unions. I think CIGA is a Galician nationalist union.

The CGT Valencia dock workers site has reposted this article (in Spanish):

http://estibadores.cgtvalencia.org/2017/03/vientos-neoliberales-amenazan-la-estiba.html

Mark.
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Mar 7 2017 16:03

Blog post (in Spanish) from a dock worker in Valencia:

https://mundoestiba.com/2017/03/04/ni-un-paso-atras/

On twitter: https://mobile.twitter.com/mundoestiba

Edit: there's a comment below the post from a dock worker employed on a different basis to the Coordinadora workers who says he earns three times less. There seem to be other workers in the ports with quite different wages and conditions who are not organised in the Coordinadora. I'm not sure how this works or how many people are involved.

Edit2: looking at the Coordinadora site I see they have a separate section for workers other than 'estibadores', and so they do at least aim to organise all workers in the ports:

http://www.coordinadora.org/trabajadores-ftp

Mark.
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Mar 7 2017 09:46

Reuters report on the suspension of the first two strike days:

http://www.reuters.com/article/spain-ports-idUSL5N1GF79F

Mark.
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Mar 8 2017 00:42

Article reposted by Coordinadora (in Spanish) arguing that there are alternative ways to comply with EU legislation:

http://www.coordinadora.org/noticias/nacional/14829-cumplir-con-europa-es-obligatorio-pero-caben-otras-formas-de-cumplimiento

'A brutal reduction of costs' in the words of an enlightening report from a Spanish business and finance site. It suggests a possible, if unconfirmed, motive for the government's move in JP Morgan and others looking to offload their interests in Spanish ports to COSCO, the Chinese corporation already involved in Greek ports:

http://www.icnr.es/articulo/el-real-decreto-sobre-el-regimen-laboral-de-los-estibadores-apunta-a-una-brutal-reduccion-de-costes

Quote:

Por su parte, la Plataforma de Inversores en Puertos Españoles milita activamente para su aprobación. En esta última están muchos de los miembros de ANESCO, aunque no todos, pero la misma se ha convertido en un ariete para la expresión de las necesidades en particular de los fondos de inversión que operan en el sector. En especial los fondos de inversión y de pensiones agrupados por JP Morgan Assset Management Infrastructure Investment Group y la holandesa Dutch Pension Fund Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP que retienen la gestión del principal propietario de terminales portuarias en España, Noatum.

Esta última, originariamente parte de Dragados, fue vendida por ACS al grupo inversor. De acuerdo con versiones del sector JP Morgan, que adquirió el grupo por unos 700 millones de euros en 2010, intenta vender esa inversión que considera “madura” y tiene como principal interesado al grupo China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) quien solo cerraría una operación si no hay compromisos laborales. En cualquier caso sea este el comprador o no es un hecho que JP Morgan y los fondos quieren vender y hacer una plusvalía y que la llave para ello es la liberalización de los compromisos laborales del sector.

Mark.
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Mar 7 2017 21:02

I'm finding this hard to follow but it looks like the government has delayed attempts to get legislation passed until next week. I'm not sure what happens if it fails to get parliamentary support. It looks like the strike on Friday will still go ahead:

https://www.elestrechodigital.com/destacado/los-estibadores-aseguran-gobierno-margen-junio-aprobar-la-reforma-del-sector/

Quote:
De momento, el IDC mantiene la convocatoria de un paro de tres horas (entre las 12.00 y las 15.00 horas) este viernes, 10 de marzo, en todos los puertos de Europa, y de una hora en los del resto del mundo, en solidaridad con los estibadores españoles. Se trata del mismo día en que arranca el calendario de paros convocado por los sindicatos españoles en los puertos del país.

So that's strikes in all Spanish ports starting at 8.00 and working one hour on and one hour off through the day. Also a three hour stoppage in all European ports from 12.00 to 15.00, and a one hour stoppage in ports in the rest of the world.

Interview (in Spanish) with Coordinadora spokesperson Antolín Goya on Canary Islands TV: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WqjuexMCO0s

.
Letter from a Barcelona dock worker (in Spanish):

http://diario16.com/familia-de-oxido-hierro-y-salitre/

Mark.
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Mar 7 2017 20:30

Spanish goods face paralysis over dockers dispute

Quote:

The trade of Spanish goods both in and out of Spain, and across the globe, face being paralysed over a dockers’ strike.

Dockers have threatened to walk out over plans to reform the country’s ports sector to comply with European Union legislation.

The International Dockers Council (IDC) claims the reform will result in around 6,000 job losses across Spanish docks and has called for negotiations with the government and port employers, which it accuses of pushing ahead with the plan without enough consultation with workers.

A nine-day strike, which was due to start on March 6, has been put on hold as parties go back to the table to try and reach a compromise. If talks fail, workers will walk off the job on March 10.

In a show of solidarity, the IDC has called for an international day of strike action on March 10, which will see ports in Europe stop work for three hours and those in the rest of the world for one hour.

But the IDC’s actions will not stop there. The organisation says that, together with its associated trade unions, it will also ensure that the ports of neighbouring countries will not be used for unloading cargo destined for Spain while the strikes are in place.

“This includes IDC affiliates in Marseille-Fos, France and Lisbon, Portugal and the ITF affiliate in Tangier, Morocco. Portuguese unions will also call on dockers in the port of Lisbon to ensure that no Spanish cargo is unloaded in the southern Portuguese port of Sines,” says the IDC.

“Furthermore, if this conflict is not resolved by the end of March, the IDC will investigate measures that will directly target Spanish foreign trade, both imports and exports.”
....

Mark.
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Mar 7 2017 21:37

Solidarity rally at Spanish Consulate San Francisco, Friday March 10

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2017/03/03/18796985.php

Quote:

Solidarity Rally and Speakout In SF-Hands Off Spanish Dockers And Smash Deregulation and Union Busting
Friday March 10, 2017 12:00 noon
Spanish Consulate San Francisco
1405 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA

Initiated By UPWA.info

No. 78 – Tuesday 1 March, 2017
FELLOW WORKERS
The Spanish Government is hellbent on attempting to destroy the most MILITANT and principled industry organised workers in Spain – the Spanish Dockers.

We must stand shoulder to shoulder with our Spanish brothers and sisters. I urge all member to read this leaflet from the IDC and to fight for the dockers of Spain and when the Branch calls on you, to support our fellow comrades. WE DO IT AS ONE!

IDC Response to the Royal Decree to Reform the Spanish Port System
February 27 2017. Last Friday, the Spanish Minister of Public Works announced his plan to reform the Spanish port system. He will enact a decree issued by the Court of Justice of the Union European Union, a modification which will result the sacking of 6,500 dockworkers. The plan is to fire Spanish dockworkers at a rate of 25% of their full strength each year, which means an absolute extinction of their employment within three years. Sacked dockworkers are to receive a severance packages of only 20 paid days per year worked.

"The Spanish Government threatens the growth of the Spanish economy and seeks to make the dockworker profession disappear from national ports," rules Jordi Aragunde, IDC General Coordinator.

The Spanish port workers ́ union Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar – CETM plans to hold industrial action in the ports of Spain for 12 hours during each of the following days: The days 6, 8, 10, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, and 24 of March, 2017.

It remains for IDC to raise support to resist this modification of the Spanish Port System. Following the Emergency IDC ZCO Meeting in Algeciras, Spain on February 28, 2017, IDC decided to take the following actions:

1. A unified action of solidarity with Spanish Dockworkers as they strike on March 10, 2017. All European Ports are to suspend work from 12:00pm-3:00pm, and all other ports outside of Europe are to suspend action from 12:00pm - 1:00pm.

2. IDC will stage a walk out of the Sectoral Social Dialogue on Ports Meeting at the European Commission on March 1, 2017.

• IDC will meet with ITF to collaborate in a joint action in support of Spanish dockworkers.

• IDC will work to ensure ports neighbouring Spain will not receive re-routed cargo turned away form Spain due to industrial actions [in Marseille, FOS, Lisbon (IDC); and Tanger (ITF)].

• IDC will ask Lisbon to hold actions in Sines to avoid further conflicts.

• At the end of March, if no changes have occurred, IDC will organize differential treatment/boycotts of strategic Spanish export cargo.

• IDC encourages affiliated members to reach out to/hold demonstrations at embassies abroad.

• IDC will continue to offer support to /Coordinadora/ and work to show Spanish dockworkers that they are not alone.

• IDC will make the situation in Spanish Ports priority for all IDC Zone Coordinators, who will be responsible for coordinating actions in their respective regions.

IDC supports Spanish Dockworkers in their struggle to defends their professions and protect their families from looming insecurity.

WE WILL NEVER WALK ALONE AGAIN!

In solidarity,

Jordi Aragunde
IDC General Coordinator

Mark.
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Mar 8 2017 08:36

http://www.idcdockworkers.org/en/home/8-noticias/697-the-international-dockworkers-council-idc-goes-before-the-european-commission-and-withdraws-from-the-sectorial-social-dialogue-on-ports-2

Quote:

IDC, March 2, 2017. Brussels. In an international expression of support for the current plight of Spanish dockworkers, International Dockworkers Council (IDC) General Coordinator Jordi Aragunde travelled to Brussels yesterday to tell the European Commission (EC) that the IDC was withdrawing from its Sectoral Social Dialogue process. The IDC has also demanded that the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc take an official and unequivocal position on the Spanish government’s Decree Law, a proposal that would see the collective dismissal of all of Spain’s current 6,000 plus docker workforce, instead of leaving the matter in the hands of lower ranking European Union (EU) technocrats. The IDC has also questioned the Commission as to whether it agrees with Spanish Government plans, as set out in the Decree Law, to use public funds to pay for the destruction of stable employment on the docks.

Furthermore, the IDC has also called on Commissioner Bulc to abide by the commitment she gave to Spanish dockworker and IDC representatives last December that she would urge the Spanish government to establish dialogue with both workers and companies, a dialogue that she described as indispensable before any presentation of the Decree Law was made. Commissioner Bulc had previously indicated to union representatives that she would open direct lines of negotiation once the Spanish government had sent them the text of the Decree Law. Yet until now, she has not said a word.

In light of this, the International Dockworkers Council has given notice that it will no longer be taking part in the EC’s Sectoral Social Dialogue meetings, the forum where the highest level of discussion on the situation in the ports takes place between companies, workers, EU member states and the European Union. The IDC has also announced a series of measures that will strengthen the resolve of the over 6,000 Spanish dockworkers whose jobs are now threatened by the unilateral measures of the Spanish government.

The first of these is the calling by the IDC of an international day of strike action in solidarity with Spanish dockworkers. This day, to be held on March 10, will see ports in Europe stop work for three hours and ports in the rest of the world stop work for one hour. The IDC has met with leaders of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) to coordinate this joint action.

The IDC, together with its associated trade unions, will also ensure that the ports of neighboring countries will not be used for the unloading of cargo destined for Spain while Spanish dockworkers are on strike. This includes IDC affiliates in Marseille-Fos, France and Lisbon, Portugal and the ITF affiliate in Tangier, Morocco. Portuguese unions will also call on dockers in the port of Lisbon to ensure that no Spanish cargo is unloaded in the southern Portuguese port of Sines.

Furthermore, if this conflict is not resolved by the end of March, the IDC will investigate measures that will directly target Spanish foreign trade, both imports and exports. Solidarity actions will also be scheduled for workers at various Spanish embassies around the world, and IDC members are asked to anticipate the need to send representatives to Spanish ports to support the dockers there.

All IDC Zone Coordinators have since last Friday, the publication date of the Decree Law, given top priority to the resolution of the ongoing conflict that Spanish dockworkers find themselves in. In this respect, they are more than willing to negotiate with companies and political parties, as well as open dialogue that can reach a consensus that, one that complies with the ruling of the European Court of Justice and is not detrimental to the current workforce of Spanish dockers.

Mark.
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Mar 8 2017 11:39

I'm wondering a bit about the lack of response to this, both here and more widely on the English speaking left. I've seen a few articles from the left but not much. By contrast there's been plenty of business coverage from sites to do with shipping, logistics and so on, though some of it is fairly superficial. It's still possible that strikes will go ahead on Friday and the government will then back down or fail to get its legislation passed next week. If not then then the situation is serious all round. The dock workers can't really give in - if they did they wouldn't have much of a future. They handle most of Spain's imports and exports and there have already been talks between Coordinadora and the Canary Islands government about how the islands will be affected. Coordinadora has as far as I know been the main force behind setting up and running the IDC and I'd expect international support to hold up.

I suppose a comparison could be made with the Liverpool dockers dispute in the 90s but that involved 500 workers in one port, compared to over 6,000 workers across all Spanish ports. Coordinadora, incidentally, gave a lot of support to the Liverpool dockers, with contact originally made by an ex-DAM member through his Trades Council. If the PP government gets its legislation through and strikes continue then maybe we're looking at something more like the scale of the miners strike, but, I'd say, with a much better chance of a successful outcome. As to what people can do outside Spain the IDC has said that 'solidarity actions will also be scheduled for workers at various Spanish embassies around the world'. As the decisions being made are essentially political it may be that this kind of action will have some effect.

Any thoughts would be welcome.

Mark.
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Mar 9 2017 11:38

Photos from demo in Algeciras today:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Portuariosworld/status/839471936610709504/photo/1

https://mobile.twitter.com/Portuariosworld/status/839475429161463808

Report on the demo here:

https://www.elestrechodigital.com/destacado/algeciras-esta-estibadores/

Edit: another, more informative, report from Algeciras (in Spanish again). This points out that Algeciras accounts for something like a third of Spain's dock workers, and is a centre for the transfer of cargos between ships, business that could easily be lost to ports elsewhere. Here even the local PP are saying they oppose the government's position:

http://m.europasur.es/maritimas/portuarios-reivindican_0_1115888461.htm

Mark.
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Mar 9 2017 12:45

The strikes on March 10, 13 and 15 have now been called off. The first strike is now scheduled for Friday March 17. Report in Spanish here:

http://www.ondacero.es/noticias/espana/estibadores-desconvocan-jornadas-huelga-dias-1013-marzo_2017030858c0668a0cf2600f3f57a388.html

Statement from Coordinadora:

https://www.facebook.com/CoordinadoraEstatalDeTrabajadoresDelMar/photos/a.597519247083648.1073741828.592517537583819/733245380177700/?type=3&theater

Edit: report from El País:

http://economia.elpais.com/economia/2017/03/08/actualidad/1489004113_241872.html

Quote:

Los sindicatos de estibadores desconvocaron este miércoles, por enésima vez,tres jornadas de paro, en concreto, las protestas organizadas para los días 10, 13 y 15 de marzo, según aseguró al término de la reunión el líder sindical Antolín Goya, que indicó que esperarán al debate parlamentario de la reforma.

Así, de los nueve días de huelga que había al inicio de la convocatoria, solo se mantienen cuatro de ellos. El primer paro será el viernes 17 de marzo, un día después de que se debata en principio el decreto ley en el Congreso de los Diputados.
....
Por el momento, el Ejecutivo sigue sin tener los apoyos parlamentarios necesarios para sacar adelante la nueva ley. Esta es otra de las razones de la nueva suspensión de jornadas de paro”, ha afirmado Goya, que confía en que el Congreso tumbe el decreto ley del Gobierno.
....

For now it looks like the government doesn't have the parliamentary support to get the bill passed, although this leaves the dock workers relying on some unlikely political allies. The first strike is now scheduled for the day after the parliamentary debate. I'm assuming that tomorrow's international stoppages have also been suspended but I haven't seen anything that actually confirms this.

Mark.
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Mar 9 2017 13:48

Graffiti at the southern entrance to the port of Barcelona:
"Ni un paso atrás CNT - CETM - IDC" ("Not one step back")

https://mobile.twitter.com/PortuariosCNT/status/839774641866559488

Mark.
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Mar 9 2017 17:14

Photos - dock workers gathering today to support student protests. I think this is in Algeciras:

https://mobile.twitter.com/Portuariosworld/status/839776552543977473

Also in Tarragona:

https://mobile.twitter.com/estibaverdader/status/839813382886866945

https://mobile.twitter.com/estibaverdader/status/839775119937515521

In other cities, including Barcelona and Almería:

https://mobile.twitter.com/SoyCoordinadora/status/839810361230524417

Bilbao:

https://mobile.twitter.com/ni300dst/status/839874795307155456

Mark.
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Mar 9 2017 16:54
Quote:
I'm assuming that tomorrow's international stoppages have also been suspended but I haven't seen anything that actually confirms this.

Confirmed here: ETF-ITC-IDC statement on the situation in Spanish ports

Quote:

The ETF, ITF and IDC have joined forces to support Spanish dockworkers whose jobs are at risk because of attempts to reform the port labour system.

The three organizations have been working together since the opening of an EU infringement procedure on freedom of establishment in ports against Spain back in 2013. Two weeks ago, the Spanish Government unilaterally presented a Royal Decree on the reform, disregarding the result of previous negotiations between social partners. Consequently the three organizations have engaged in a series of actions to support the struggle of the Spanish dockers. Among these, an action day was planned for the 10 March 2017, to coincide with the strike called by the Spanish unions on the same day.

“Following discussions with our respective members, our three organizations have decided to temporarily suspend the announced day of action. The Spanish unions are making another attempt to see if they can succeed with negotiations and political influence, and we fully respect this decision. Our actions are meant to support them and we are obviously ready to rework our solidarity plans to meet the needs of their revised strategy.” said ETF Dockers’ Section Chair Terje Samuelsen.

The three organizations and their members in Europe and around the world are maintaining all their political actions to support our Spanish Comrades.

Jordi Aragunde, IDC General Coordinator added “We are certainly not dropping our guard: we are all very busy supporting members in Spain. Our aim is to support them gaining the right to a fair reform of port labour. They are not opposing the reform, but some of the terms set by the government are not acceptable: we are convinced port labour can be reformed without the need for huge job losses and replacing stable employment with precarious jobs.”

Paddy Crumlin, ITF President and Dockers’ Section Chair concluded “The global dockers’ and transport workers’ family will continue to demonstrate tremendous support to the Spanish dockers. This is an emblematic struggle against dogmatic liberalization of labour, and it affects the labour movement as a whole. We are following the developments in Spain very closely and are ready to support the struggle through any lawful means.”
....