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Spanish stevedores call for two-day strike

SPANISH stevedores have called a two-day nationwide strike later this month over government plans to reform the country’s port laws. The stoppage will target the reception and delivery of freight at terminals but will not impact on vessel loading and unloading operations. The strike will run from March 23 to March 25 and was called by Coordinadora, Spain’s leading docker union which has hefty backing in most Spanish ports. Coordinadora has expressed strong opposition to a draft proposal for the legislative shake-up, arguing that it has been drawn up in secret and threatens an unjust reduction in the scope of stevedoring activities. One area of work that could be carried out by non-stevedore personnel under the proposal is freight reception and delivery, hence the focus of the strike. The proposal also envisages restructuring the existing framework for stevedore pools in publicly-owned ports and, according to the union, could reignite labour unrest on the quayside at a time of relative calm. The draft legislative package is still under negotiation and government officials are carrying out a wide consultation on the measures. The broad aim of the proposal is to bring Spain’s port laws further in line with EU legislation in areas such as environmental protection and competition law. Many of its initiatives are geared to giving public port authorities greater freedom in the way they run their affairs, enabling managers to react to specific market conditions by allowing them greater control over key factors including the tariffs they charge and the structures they put in place for key activities such as stevedoring.

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