Bilbao, Spain (PortSEurope) November 11, 2020 – The Basque port of Bilbao has just started the second consecutive month of a stevedores’ strike and there is little sight of a resolution to the conflict. Bilboestiba, an association of Cosco, Bergé, SLP and Toro y Betolaza operating at the port, has rejected a mediation proposed by the unions and demanded that they accept binding arbitration. Also critical was Autoridad
Portuaria de Bilbao (APB – Port Authority of Bilbao), which reproached port operators for the baseless strikes, the damage caused, the failure to comply with agreed minimum services and a refusal to accept current legislation. Bilboestiba warned that 67% of general merchandise and 54% of containers have been lost in the first month of strikes, in addition to 43 ship visits. The comoanies refuse to negotiate until the strike is called off. The companies rejected the last offer that the unions (Coordinadora, UGT, ELA, LAB and Kaia) put on the negotiating table saying that they propose to keep the complementary tasks within the stowage, which in their opinion “violates current legislation”. Port Authority president, Ricardo Barkala, had already expressed his discomfort, but the organization spoke yesterday in a broad note in which it questions the dockers for rejecting arbitration and also for “not accepting current legislation”. Although it recognizes the right to strike, it maintains that it also has its rules and “that in this case they are being violated.” He assures that “the minimum services are not met and waiting times double and even quadruple the usual times.” The organization warns of the serious damage that the strike is causing. “Companies in the ‘hinterland’ cannot produce goods due to lack of raw material and the processed products cannot reach their destination,” he says. But, above all, it warns of the threat that lost traffic will not return. “There have been many years of enduring a disfunctional stevedoring service, of being awaiting notice of strikes and strikes so that customers are encouraged again to bet on the Port of Bilbao”, he added. The stalled situation suggests a mandatory arbitration, but it is an option that depends on the central government. Counselor Tapia has asked the Minister of Transport, José Luis Ábalos, to act while the person in charge of Employment and Labor, Idoia Mendia, calls for dialogue. Yesterday EH Bildu gave his support to the stevedores. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2020.