The International Dockworkers Council (IDC) has called off mobilizations in support of Spanish dockworkers planned for March 23 that were previously scheduled to be held in ports around the world. The IDC took this decision after the Spanish parliament voted last Thursday to reject the national government’s Royal Decree that was promoted by the Ministry of Public Works, which was designed to obliterate jobs on the Spanish docks. This result is a big step forward for the dockworkers of Spain.
Mr. Jordi Aragunde, IDC General Coordinator
In the words of IDC General Coordinator, Jordi Aragunde, “this is a step forward, but also a great opportunity given to us by the opposition parliamentary groups. Dockworkers, together with the government and employers, can come to an agreement on the best conditions for the remodeling of the Spanish Port Model and for complying with the ruling of the European Court of Justice.” Aragunde also thanked IDC affiliates around the world and “their constant show of support for the workers of Spain and the actions they carried out which brought great pressure to bear internationally, and in Spain.
This pressure helped to convince public opinion that the unilateral Royal Decree was reckless, dishonest, and harmful to the interests of the working class- interests which we proudly represent.” In this regard, IDC looks to the coming meetings with hope. Spanish workers expect a frank negotiation which starts from scratch and allows for the resolution of this situation, one which takes into account international legality and, above all else, the maintenance of existing working conditions. The International Dockworkers Council also hopes to return to the EU’s Sectoral Social Dialogue process as soon as the issues faced by Spanish workers are resolved and the new regulation is in operation. “We informed European Commission representatives of this at the meeting held on Monday, March 13,” says the General Coordinator. “But to reach this point, it is necessary to ensure that all the points that were not prohibited by either the European Commission or the ruling of the European Court of Justice are transferred to the new Spanish law,” Aragunde said.
In this sense, union representatives will go to the meeting with these parties to demand the carrying over of their current contracts and the inclusion of a professional registry of dockworkers, in accordance with the international regulations included in International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 137. Spain has ratified this convention and, as pointed out by the heads of the European Commission in various meetings with workers’ representatives, Brussels does not oppose it.
In any case, “the rejection of the Spanish government’s proposal is only a small demonstration of the real power of dockers around the world.” Aragunde concluded that, “once this conflict in Spain is solved, problems remain in other countries where IDC members are established, such as those in Latin America, Africa, Sweden, Portugal, and the United States – which we will offer our support to in coming weeks.” The IDC General Coordinator has been invited to the High Level Ministerial Stakeholders Road Safety and Maritime Conference to be held on 28 and 29 March in Malta, the country currently holding the EU’s rotating presidency position. Malta’s Minister of Transport and Infrastructure, Joe Mizzi, has invited Jordi Aragunde to the meeting which will include the representatives of the Transport Ministers from all of the EU’s 27 member nations as well as with European Commission representatives led by the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc.
Aragunde will be given the opportunity to intervene in this forum of discussion and dialogue. This meeting represents a great opportunity for workers to demonstrate their occupational professionalism as well as increase the pressure on the Spanish government executive as it negotiates the new decree conditions that sought to modify the port sector. In Malta, the Declaration of Valletta that deals with maritime safety, competitiveness, and environmental sustainability, is also set to be discussed and adopted. The presence of all EU Transport Ministers at this meeting will enable the European Commission to clarify its position and the real role it intends to adopt in relation to the ports and maritime sector in coming years.
Source: IDF (International Dockworkers Council)