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 thee 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.