The planned strike by stevedores later this month will bring Balearic state ports to a standstill. This is the fear of various business associations, who are concerned about the impact on the shipping of goods into Palma, Ibiza and Mahon from Barcelona and Valencia.
The industrial action - three days of strikes on 20, 22 and 24 February - is over proposed legislative reform that will end the current monopoly that stevedore companies (made up by the dockers themselves) have at ports.
Shipping companies and agents say that illegal and covert action has already started in Barcelona and Valencia and is having a serious financial and commercial impact.
Baleària is one of the companies most affected, and its president, Adolfo Utor, says that an agreed solution needs to be reached which aligns the interests of businesses and the workers and therefore avoids a conflict with unpredictable consequences for the national economy.
Carmen Planas, president of the Balearic Confederation of Business Associations, highlights concerns arising from the dependency that there is on the shipping of goods from the mainland. She says that the confederation is in permanent contact with the Balearic Ports Authority regarding the industrial action.
The association for distribution companies and the Majorca Chamber of Commerce have expressed their anxieties as well. The alternate days for strike action will affect the whole week, says Bartomeu Servera for the distributors, and he is calling for negotiations between the national government and the stevedores. Otherwise, there will be very negative repercussions for the Balearics.
José Luis Roses, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, has spoken with his counterpart at the ports authority, Juan Gual, and believes that the planned reform by the national ministry for development is necessary. He hopes that there can be a quick solution to the conflict, highlighting the fact that 85% of food goods that arrive in the Balearics are perishables. "That gives an indication of potential impact."
Roses notes that the dockers can in any event bring ports to a standstill, if they want to, by slowing down operations. "We appeal to all parties to come to an agreement."
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