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Spanish stevedoring rules in chaos

Legal action brought by the State Association of Port Operating Companies (ASOPORT) against the IV Framework Agreement for the regulation of stevedoring in Spanish ports has been upheld by the courts. As a result, the stevedoring situation in Spain is now a complete mess

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Spanish stevedoring rules in chaos

ASOPORT’s main gripe concerned the main signatories of the agreement: the employers’ association ANESCO and the port unions, of which Coordinadora and CCOO are the two largest.

 

The ruling notes that the Framework Agreement contravenes Royal Decree-Law 9/2019 and 8/2017 and also goes against Article 49 of the EU Foundation Treaty, since this prohibits restrictions on the freedom of establishment by nationals of one member state in the territory of another member state. Worse still, the agreement is contrary to the judgments of the EU Court of Justice on 11 December 2014 and 11 February 2021.

 

The judges involved noted that Article 6 implies that monopolistic stevedoring practices are effectively being set up through the creation of companies providing stevedores. The judges say these are "openly anti-competitive” and have already been “expressly declared illegal" by the European Court of Justice.

 

Article 7, which regulates the selection of personnel, has also been declared illegal, since it requires stevedores to pass examinations at port level which exceed the requirements of Royal Decree-Law 8/2017. According to the sentence, this implies "union control of access, because without the necessary consent of the workers’ representation, access is not possible."

 

Article 10 must also be annulled, since the imposition of the rotation system for personnel that it implies flies in the face of the legal freedom to hire that stevedoring companies enjoy as set out in law 9/2019.

 

As for Article 12, the designation of recognised stevedoring companies as the only competent bodies to establish professional classification and promotion is not allowed within the law. Furthermore, attempts to introduce compulsory subrogation when workers move from established stevedoring SAGEP companies - which were deemed illegal by the ECJ - to new port employment companies (CPEs) have been highlighted as being contrary to the principle of equality and is therefore unconstitutional, in part because the CPE structure [still] leaves potential new entrants at a competitive disadvantage.

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