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The International Dockworkers Council (IDC) has warned it will seek to paralyse worldwide shipments of Spanish goods if the government follows through with plans that could threaten 6,500 jobs.

The threat follows the government’s decision to alter legislation and adhere to a 2014 ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) that Spain was failing to meet the requirements of the EU Treaty’s freedom of establishment principle.

Under current Spanish law, all dockworkers must be members of stevedoring societies, known as Sociedad Anonima de Gestion de Estibadores Portuarios (Sageps), which recruit and train port workers before making them available to terminal and cargo operators.

The ECJ found Sageps limited employers’ options for sourcing workers and last July levied a €15.6m fine on the Madrid government, adding a €134,000 daily fine until legal amendments were made.

However, the IDC argues that the Spanish government wants to make the change without consultation, and general coordinator Jordi Aragunde stated that channels of dialogue must be established.

“We asked to go to Brussels with an agreement between the parties to approve, as was done with the Belgian stowage model,” said Mr 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.”

Mr Aragunde said the Spanish legislation must incorporate convention 137 of the International Labour Organization, ratified by Spain, which ensures permanent and regular employment for registered dockworkers and is “respected” by most maritime communities.

The Spanish ministry of public works is expected to announce its final standing on the matter next Tuesday, but Mr Aragunde warns if IDC demands are not met, dockworkers have strike plans in place for Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Furthermore, it has not ruled out using its workforce to exert pressure on global governments to also put pressure on the Spanish government.

“We have not ruled out proposing actions to influence the movement of Spanish commodities if no agreement is reached,” said Mr Aragunde.

However, Mr Aragunde has said he would favour reaching an agreement “to the benefit of both parties”.

He added: “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.”

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