Spanish port workers have called off a planned three-day strike after the government confirmed it would put its port labour reforms on hold and instead open talks with unions.
The Spanish government had previously announced plans to reform the sector’s port labour market due to an ongoing fine from the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Strikes were due to take place on February 20, 22 and 24 with unions mobilising against the proposals.
The planned overhaul would have allowed 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.
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.
Before Madrid altered its stance, Paddy Crumlin, president and dockers’ section chair of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), stated: “The Spanish government is tearing up the rule book with a callous disregard for Spanish jobs, Spanish prestige and international conventions. Their plans go beyond belief.”
According to Crumlin, any attempt to “dismantle the current dockers’ registration system” would be in breach of Spain’s international obligations under ILO (International Labour Organisation) Convention 137.
Volkswagen’s Spanish unit Seat had begun to clear room to store vehicles it would be unable to ship during the strike period, reported Reuters.