Spanish port reform rejected, strike called off. What next?

Port of Algeciras

Spanish dockworkers unions have called off the remaining days of the strike scheduled for March, 17, 20, 22 and 24, after the Congress rejected yesterday the new law on dock labour system reform suggested by the government.

The lower house of Spain’s Parliament voted down the law, which now has a status of royal decree, with 174 votes against, 142 in favour and 33 deputies abstained. It is the first time a royal decree has been rejected in parliament since 1979.

Among those opposing the law were Spanish Socialist Workers’Party (“PSOE”), Podemos (“We Can”) and several other leftish parties (Izquierda Unida, Esquerra Republicana and others). The centrists party Ciudadanos (“Citizens”), the fourth largest force in parliament that supports the Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative People’s Party (PP) on some policies, abstained in the vote.

As we wrote earlier, the European Court of Justice fined the Spanish government in July 2016 EUR 15.6 mln for failing to implement changes in its dock labour system to comply with the EU regulations. On top of that, a daily fine of EUR 134,000 was imposed, which up to now have amounted to at least EUR 21 mln, according to experts.

The European Commission suspended the fines as the government showed progress on the reforms, completely supporting the new law and calling for its soonest ratification by the Congress. However, now the European Commission has suggested the fines may be imposed again.

Spain’s Minister of Public Works and Transport Iñigo de la Serna said in parliament following the vote: “The loss is not just for us, but all Spaniards who will have to pay the fine.”

Dockworkers have met the results of the yesterday’s vote with animation, believing that as from now a serious process of negotiations will commence involving all parties concerned, which will elaborate an adequate response to the EU requirements and restore the stability into the sector, writes Spanish Ports.

Julia Louppova:
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