Spanish dock workers pointed the way forward when they struck an initial blow against the EU and Rajoy in March. The EU’s Court of Justice declared back in 2014 that the labor situation in all ports in Spain—where stevedoring workers are unionized, including in the ports of Catalonia and the Basque Country—violated EU rules on “free enterprise” (read, free of unions). To enforce its diktats, the EU imposed 23 million euros in fines on Spain and then in March added a daily penalty of 134,000 euros for noncompliance. The Rajoy government issued a decree to force harsh conditions of compliance with EU rules upon this strategic union workforce, which handles 80 percent of Spain’s imports and about 65 percent of its exports. In response, the Spanish port workers union Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores del Mar (CETM) began mobilizing for nationwide port strikes in February and March with widely publicized plans for solidarity actions by other longshore unions around the world. Faced with the port strikes, a majority of members of the Spanish Congress refused to approve the union-busting decree and handed Rajoy’s minority government a stinging defeat, the first time a government decree has been voted down by Congress since 1979!


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