IDC, 2/13/2017. Barcelona. In recent days, representatives of tens of thousands of dockworkers from the five continents have sent letters to the Spanish union Coordinadora, to the Spanish Minister of Public Works Íñigo de la Serna, and to several Spanish Embassies and Consulates. These letters were sent with the hope of encouraging a solution to end the conflict generated by Spain ten days ago, when they annouced the Spanish Executive intends to approve a unilateral legislative decree that undermines years of growth in Spanish ports.
From Oceania to America or Asia, through the main countries of Europe and Africa, the International Dockworkers Council and the main Spanish union, Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (CETM), have received much support. In the words of the IDC's General Coordinator, Jordi Aragunde, "the Spanish Government must overturn an agreement which 90% of the companies have already signed with the workers, and then proceed to make their own agreement which complies with the European Commission´s judgement in the Court of Luxembourg- which has required the Kingdom of Spain modify the existing stowage model."
According to the trade union leader "at the meeting we had last December with Commissioner Violeta Bulc, we asked to go to Brussels with an agreement between the parties to approve, as was done with the Belgian stowage model." In this sense, according to Aragunde, "the European Commission neither drafts the jurisprudence of each Member State nor legislates. This is done by each country in a particular way; Spain, in this case. For dockworkers, it is important that the agreement with the Spanish Government complies with Convention 137 of the International Labor Organization (ILO), ratified by Spain. This convention ensures the permanent and regular employment of dockworkers, maintains registers for all categories of dockworkers, and states that registered dockworkers should have priority for dock work," added Aragunde. In most countries with maritime traffic, the ILO Convention is respected, especially when it is ratified by a Member State.
For now, IDC has coordinated an international campaign to support Spanish colleagues. They await next Tuesday´s ruling by the Spanish Ministry of Public Works, who has since decided to pursue honest negotiation with workers and review proposals from both parties, given that at last Friday's meeting no proposal was presented. In case workers´ demands are not met, it should be remembered that the unions called a strike notice on the odd hours of Monday, Wednesday, and Friday next week.
In addition, IDC has convened an emergency meeting of its Zone Coordinators (Europe, Africa, West Coast of North America and Pacific, East Coast of North America, Oceania, and Latin America) on 21 February in Algeciras, Spain to analyze the situation and give a joint and forceful response to the demands made from Spain.
The General Coordinator states "the conflict should be met with the opportunity of establishing channels of dialogue in good faith and, if necessary, with the presence of European Commission officials. In this way, we can prevent the Spanish economy from suffering consequences." In this sense, the current unilateral decision on the table"risks the security of the entire port sector and endangers import and export of Spanish goods in ports."
In the words of Jordi Aragunde, "We have not ruled out proposing actions to influence the movement of Spanish commodities, in case no agreement is reached." This would not be the first time that the international workers´union has taken measures to paralyze or delay the unloading of consumer goods from other countries where the improvement of working conditions is being negotiated, as a measure of pressure for the respective Governments to agree to negotiate with the trade union.
IDC, 02/06/2017. Barcelona. "The Spanish Government threatens the growth of the Spanish economy and seeks to make the dockworkers´profession disappear from the countrys´ports." These strong words belong to the General Coordinator of the International Dockworker Council (IDC), Jordi Aragunde of Spain, after learning last Thursday the conservative government heading Spain intends to launch a unilateral legislative decree without dialogue with workers. For the leader of the international organizaton of trade unions, "the struggle of Spanish dockers is the struggle of all dockers around the world."
"Spanish ports are growing. The workers' wages are also growing... and the Ministry of Public Works intends to act on a decree that prevents the country's economic recovery," says Aragunde. "With a unilateral measure like the one they intend to carry out, they will suceed in weighing down positive numbers and the recovery of the foreign trade in Spain as a whole."
In addition, "taking unilateral measures is an incitement for workers" who in Spain have already planned measures to dissuade the Government from this idea under the motto: "Action-Reaction." In the international context, Jordi Aragunde plans to contact leaders of major trade unions around the world to coordinate support for Spanish dockworkers, which will undoubtedly have a large impact, since "it is an offense against thousands of families, dismissals of hundreds of workers, selling short the work that has been carried out to date and endangering the security of ports."
Thus, "IDC will provide unconditional support to Spanish workers and organize around the world," said IDC General Coordinator. "We are more than 100,000 dockworkers, united in ports across the five continents, and we have already demonstrated that the union is a force to be reckoned with."
IDC remains open to dialogue with both the Spanish Government and the community, and hopes to soften the consequences of this application of the Judgment (passed by the European Union Court of Justice (Room 6) on December 2014) that may harm the interests of workers. At this point, Commissioner Bulc pointed out to Jordi Aragunde and Anthony Tetard- accompanying the Spanish trade union leader and former IDC General Coordinator Antolín Goya- she is in favor of a sincere negotiation.
In addition, according to the mandate of the most recent IDC General Assembly held in Miami last year, the International Dockworkers Council is portrayed in its role as mediator in national conflicts, and has acted as such on numerous occassions already, including in Portugal and currently in Sweden. In this sense and before the European Commission itself, IDC "will propose to open channels of dialogue as long as the decree is not published with consensus, as promised by the former Minister of Public Works and current president of the Spanish Congress of Deputies, Ana Pastor," says IDC General Coordinator.
It should be noted that the principle of agreement reached a few days ago between the workers´ representatives- headed by the union Coordinadora – and the employers', there is a scrupulous fulfillment of the Judgment of the Court of Luxembourg and an evolution of the current model of work on the docks in Spain.
IDC, January 2017. Barcelona. International Dockworkers Council (IDC) General Coordinator Jordi Aragunde spent four days in the Americas where he had the opportunity to discuss a number of important issues with IDC dockworker affiliates situated on the East Coast of the United States, Mexico and Argentina.
During his time in New York, Aragunde met with International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Vice-President Dennis A. Daggett, to discuss the impact of newly-elected President Donald Trump entering the White House. The IDC General Coordinator and the leaders of the ILA, a union which represents over 65,000 workers in U.S. ports, also discussed the global union's strategy for the coming months.
Aragunde also took advantage of his meeting with ILA representatives to discuss how the ILA could help to resolve the disputes affecting dockers in the IDC’s European Zone, particularly those in Spain and Belgium after the European Court ruling on respective port models, as well as the current situation faced by Swedish dockworkers. Together with ILA representatives, Aragunde discussed various measures and strategies that can be taken in order to meet the challenges that their colleagues on the other side of the Atlantic are now facing.
Jordi Aragunde later visited Mexico to meet the leaders of the Sindicato de Trabajadores Portuarios y sus Ramales en General del Estado de Veracruz (STPRGEV – Port and Related Industry Workers’ Union of the State of Veracruz), which brings together about 12,000 IDC affiliates. Along with his Mexican counterparts, the IDC General Coordinator discussed the drawing up of strategies which the dockworkers can use to ensure that they can achieve greater recognition from the country’s authorities and better representation for their members. Particular attention was paid to how the newly formed union, which represents the majority of dockworkers in the region, can achieve legal trade union status so that the union can have a stronger presence in the decision making processes that affect dockworkers.
For the final leg of his trip, Aragunde and IDC South American Zone Coordinator, Ricardo Suárez from Uruguay, were invited to Buenos Aires to join workers from the Sindicato Único de Trabajadores de las Administraciones Portuarias (SUTAP - United Port Authority Workers’ Union) at a demonstration to demand the liberation of Milagro Sala, a political activist and leader of the Tupac Amaru neighborhood association.
Both IDC leaders also met with the Sindicato de Guincheros y Maquinistas de Grúas Móviles (SGyMGMRA – Crane and Mobile Crane Drivers’ Union), which operates in the ports, and the Federación Marítima Portuaria y de la Industria Naval (FeMPINRA – Maritime, Port and Naval Industry Federation). The aim of this meeting was the strengthening of ties in order to facilitate taking joint action and of uniting forces in the short term. The meeting was also attended by former IDC South American Zone Coordinator Mauricio Zarzuelo, who is from Argentina and a member of SUTAP.
The IDC delegation discussed with the Argentine dockworkers the strategy of the IDC in Latin America, where it has a presence in most countries, which includes the need to strengthen the training of dockworkers.
• The conditions of workers within the ports are a key factor for competition• Jordi Aragunde: "we must focus on the application of the new Regulation with regards to container terminal automation"
Page 1 of 37