Bilbao, Spain (PortSEurope) November 24, 2020 – There have been nearly 50 days of strikes at Bilbao port and neither side is giving ground as they seek their own routes to a solution. The companies operating at the port, Cosco, Bergé, SLP and Toro y Betolaza, are seeking forced arbitration which us supported by the Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, president of the Basque government. he has
requested action from central government. The State Bar (Abogacía del Estado) has prepared a report in which, considering the current situation of almost 50 days of strike, recommends that this exceptional mechanism is adopted. The document, issued last Friday, has been requested by the Minister of Transport, José Luis Ábalos. However, as he himself said in the Senate, it is up to the Minister of Labour, Yolanda Díaz, to bring the mandatory arbitration proposal to the Council of Ministers. The report of the State Bar is not binding, but Díaz must argue that it is not taken into consideration. On the other hand, labour unions, in their struggle to avoid compulsory arbitration and open other avenues, have requested the mediation of Minister Díaz in the conflict, after the companies rejected the intervention of the Basque Government’s Labour Department. The unions, made up of Coordinadora, UGT, ELA, LAB and Kaia, is aware that the minister, a strong defender of social dialogue, is reluctant to apply a forced mechanism and has offered to suspend the strike while the discussion table is open. negotiation. The minister has not yet spoken, but sources in her department assure that no request for arbitration has been received and that they are committed to exhausting all possibilities before resorting to this exceptional measure. The port companies claim that the union action goes against the new liberalizing legislation. Specifically, they say that the regulation leaves complementary tasks out of the orbit of stowage and that this point is non-negotiable. They do not want mediation that does not lead to any solution and the conflict remains unresolved in a definitive way, with the risk of more strikes in the future. In the midst of this dispute, the Port of Bilbao is losing business. Newly-released traffic figures for October 2020 show a 40% drop in traffic. A large part of that business has been taken by Gijón, which rose 26%, and also Pasaia, with an increase of 19%. Bilbao is now in seventh position in the national ranking for traffic handled, when previously it has always been the fourth port in Spain. If the dispute continues much longer, there are doubts whether the lost traffic will return at all. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2020.