The Port of Barcelona became the first Spanish port to approve an agreement between stevedore unions and their employers on the new working conditions for stevedores stemming from the port reform passed in May last year.

The agreement is based on the deal agreed between worker unions and employers’ association Anesco last year, which was followed by extensive negotiations on the fifth Framework Agreement.

The agreement is yet to be signed off by the stevedore and port company associations of the Port of Barcelona, the Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (Coordinadora), a Spanish dockworkers union said.

A major issue in the June agreement was the subrogation of all workers by the stevedoring companies, Coordinadora said.

In addition, a number of stevedoring companies in the port committed to undertaking necessary activities in order to transform the local stevedoring society known as SAGEP into port employment center.

To remind, under the new port reform law passed by Spain in May 2017, stevedoring companies will not have to hire unionized workers who are members of local SAGEPs, enabling them to hire non-unionized staff. The provision was severely boycotted by dockers who staged country-wide strikes amid fears of massive layoffs.

Docker strikes that hit the country’s ports had a major impact on the Spanish economy having in mind that the country relies on its ports for 80 percent of its total imports and 57 percent of its total exports.

Government estimates showed that just the two-day strike launched on June 14 cost the country USD 123 million and resulted in 34 ships being diverted from Spanish ports.

Furthermore, aside to the economic impact, as companies diverted their ships to competing ports such as Sines, Marseille-Fos, Genoa or even further north to ports like Antwerp and Rotterdam, the competitiveness of Spanish ports has also suffered a major blow.

World Maritime News Staff

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