A strike in the ports of Portugal has been called off after the reinstatement of 47 dismissed workers and assurance from management that a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) will be negotiated.
A dispute involving the the Sindicato des Estivadores, trabalhadores do Tráfego e Conferentes Maritimos do Centro e Sul du Portugal (SETC) has been ongoing since the Portuguese government adopted a new port law on 1 February 2013 which initiated liberalisation. It was the start of a process to progressively deteriorate conditions for port workers, in particular in Lisbon where 47 workers were dismissed without reason. It was also a breach of ILO Convention 137 on dock work which Portugal has ratified.
There has been a mass display of solidarity for Portuguese workers by dockers throughout Europe coordinated by the European Transport Workers’ Federation and the International Dockworkers’ Council. Letters of protest were sent to Portuguese embassies in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Latvia, The Netherlands, Romania, Spain and the UK, in addition to industrial and support actions.
Now, following a meeting in Lisbon on 14 February, negotiations between the union and management over a new collective bargaining agreement have been extended until September. Assurances have also been given that preference for professional dockworkers will be given in port hiring practices, more professional training will be made available for all workers and that all parties will maintain social peace during the negotiation period for the CBA.
ETF dockers’ section chair, Terje Samuelsen said: “This is a great step forward for the Portuguese unions and excellent news for all European Dockers. Once again, the pressure put by international solidarity played a crucial contribution to the achievement of this result. We will keep doing our best to ensure that all the other current disputes, notably the ones in Norway, are settled with such a positive outcome.”
Visit the ETF dockers’ webpages for more background on the dispute.