AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY YEARS: MEMOIRS OF AN INTERNATIONAL TRADER

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It had nothing to do with the official workers' movement and had even to battle it to survive. The OEPB was part oftheother workers movement," an assembly movement which had been openly proclaimed during the shoe industry strikes in Vitoria and during the construction industry strikes in Roca. The press-without exception-accused the new assembly movement of being unruly and irresponsible.

Capital and the unions tried to bury it through the Moncloa Pact. But theotherworkers movement- continued to manifest itself for several more years: in Fasa, in Ford, and in the ports. After the and strikes in Fasa Valladolid and in the Ford Almsafes factory were defeated, however, it was the dockers' collective that alone survived. But the OEPB had always gone against the current both in its organizational form and in its high combativity. Conflict in the docks took on a new clarity with the OEPB.

Management asked: what do these dockers want- The dockers answered: the organization of all the docks in the country. And so the Coordinadora grew-outside the control of the majority unions of the CC. Over time it created an international network of dockers and had the Third International Congress of Dockers convened in Barcelona. This strike proved to be the baptism of fire for the Coordinadora and the beginning of a huge conflict which would sweep the ports in The immediate cause of the strike was the privatization of the docks and a proposed reform of the OTP which would have meant that dockers would no longer be able to use it as a contracting body.

Twenty-four docks controlled by the Coordinadora-about 12, dockers, out of a national total of 13,joined the strike. In Coruna scrabs tried to break the strike and caused confrontations that led to the intervention of cops. In Gallicia there were many arrests and injuries. This was to be the shape of things to come for all Spanish dockers.

In Tenerife the army, the police and the Guardia Civil had to form a security cordon for the scabs. However, in the end it didn't do them much good anyway since the ships were boycotted, through go-slows, when they got to their final destinations. In England, dockers refused to unload cargo that had been handled by scabs. They declared that they would call off their boycott only after:. According to English dockers, these demands were madeata moment of high tension: the port authorities had threatened a lock-out and the dockers a general strike if they attempted to impose one.

Conflict began anew in May when the Coordinadora decided to push for a collective agreement in which Dockers' jobs and the former system of labour contracts would be guaranteed. It also tried to stop the "secret". Strikes continued throughout the summer, leaving a trail of injuries and even death.

On July 2 1, Belen Maria, the daughter of a Canary Islands docker, was run over by a car when she joined her family in a sit-down protest at one of the entrance gates of Las Palmas. By the end of the summer, management had to concede defeat-for the first time in the transitional years. It reluctantly signed all the points of the agreement the Coordinadora had proposed. Taken over by a team of analysts belonging to the OECD, dock management began to try to reverse the provisions of the agreement they had signed with the dockers by waging a war against the dockers and against those small dock companies which, because their profits were threatened during the strikes, had been the first to sign it.

Under the banner of modernization, a new decree was proposed which threatened these small dock companies with extinction.

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It set a minimum number of workers companies had to pay weekly and forced even small dock companies to contribute heavily to paying for dock infrastructure. The decree also proposed converting the OTP into a labour exchange, which companies could use whenever they needed workers. Under the new proposal, if a docker refused to work for a particular company that company could hire from among the unemployed.

This would be the avenue by which the dock companies could legitimize hiring scabs. The decree also called for the setting-up of local councils made up of equal numbers of management, dockers, and administration representatives to maintain worker discipline and control work speeds.

Since each group in the council had the same voting rights, it was obvious to the dockers who would run them. What the bosses had lost in the agreement they signed with the Coordinadora they tried to get back through a clean decree from Madrid. The decree unmasked the true intentions of the State, which had all along feigned neutrality by defending only theright-of bodies to negotiate. Since the decree was so openly anti-docker it could not be enforced all at once. The bosses decided to attack the dockers' collective at its strongest point.

They applied the terms of the Royal Decree first to the port of Barcelona--where,- according to the bosses in HoJ'a del Lunes, -- the national leaders of the Coordinadora are to be found. These strikes led to 4, instances of workers being disciplined and the firing of workers. But the strikes themselves were ineffective because the companies hired scabs.

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Throughout the year we can distinguish two stages, both clearly defined by the methods of struggle. The first stage was marked by the selective strikes against the companies that had applied the decree - above all in Barcelona and Tenerife. On the first of November the barrio of Barceloneta came out on a general strike in support of their neighbours - the dockers. The dockers' wives played an important part in the struggle. As a protest, women occupied the Santa Maria and on 17th November '80 a demonstration of women and children was broken up by the police using all the anti-riot gear at their disposal.

Barceloneta was stormed by the police and defended street by street by the dockers and their neghbours. The final result was several arrests and many workers and police hurt. On the 6th of January, 1, the Diario de A visos published the proposals of dockers from Rochester in England who refused to unload 45, boxes of tomatoes and 3, bales of peppers from Tenerife. The 'Asociacion de Casecheros y Exportadores de Tomate de Canaries' signed an agreement with the dockers, consenting to export its produce through companies which had not signed the decree and would not employ scabs.

On the 26th January the selective strikes were called off. The president of this organisation was to be seen afterwards at the EFE Agency. The second stage began on the same day as Guell's announcement. In a confrontation between workers and scabs hired by Maritima Layetana several hoists were chucked into the harbour, with scabs still on them. The dockers decided on a go-slow to prevent the scabs from putting them out of a job. On February 1st the Barcelona dockers refused to work on the "Cuzce', a ship bound for San Salvador and waiting to be loaded up with 20 Fiat tanks.

Other ports were told to keep an eye open for the ship so the boycott could continue. Later, the dockers were told the ship's cargo was bound for the Peruvian military. On February 10th '81, sacked dockers occuped the Italian ship "Aquila" as a means of bringing pressure to bear on the matter of getting their jobs back. On February 23rd and 24th a general strike was called throughout all the Spanish ports in solidarity with Barcelona.

These were particularly tense days but the failed coup did not succeed in stopping the mobilisation. Management spokesmen did not delay in sending communiques to the press announcing the total ruin of the port of Barcelona. Nevertheless in Maritima a local publication dealing with the port the following news item could be read: "According to studies carried out, the only 3 European ports in which tonnage shipped in actually increased were as follows: Amberes 2.

The daily El Pais, one of the newspapers most favourably disposed to management, announced that the strikes on February 23rd and 24th would lead to a loss of 50, million pesetas a day. Meanwhile companies belonging to the port announced their intention to close if the climate of anarchy and violence did not cease. On February 25th, temperatures on the wharves rose and incidents between scabs and workers only ceased when shots were fired.

The strikes set for the beginning of March were called off as a demonstration of the dockers good will, faced with the prospect of negotiation.

Around The World In Eighty Years : Memoirs Of An International Trader

On March 18th, El Noticiero Universal mentioned the attack on the Mapor headquarters and the beating up of its Director. Given this background the bosses refused to negotiate. Lopez Fando, director of the OTP made a statement to La Vanguardia in which he stated "all dialogue must take the Decree as the basis for reform - the numbers of workers employed in the port is superabundant and the best paid in the world. Antonio Llado spoke to the press in similar terms: "A go-slow means working two hours a day hence the price of goods rise.

Around The World In Eighty Years : Memoirs Of An International Trader

On April 2nd, the La Vanguardia newspaper published a statement by the dock's bosses about the conflict: In 3 months, from the 9th December to March 24th , of the newly contracted workers have been hurt, some of them badly and there have been 56 aggressive acts. A container hoist wvs wrecked worth 83, ptas.


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The Correo Catalan spread more light on these imperfections: "3 tractors ruined, 3 hoists thrown into the water, 2 hoists with their wheels broken, 2 hoists with their motors ruined, 17 platform supports wrecked. On April 25th '81, the courts Magistura del Trabajo de Barcelona voted in favour of the workers, declaring the sackings of the 23 workers null and void. On April 28th, Barcelona dockers decided to work a normal shift calling off their go-slow.


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This was a gesture of good will, leaving it up to the courts to reinstate the sacked workers. On May 1 5th '8 1, the Servei Territorial de Trebell de la Generalitat ruled in favour of the workers demanding the reinstatement of the sacked workers. A comment sprayed on the walls went as follows: "Whenever they take charge of a matter it is already too late" para una vez que tienan competencia sobre un asunto, llegan tarde.

On May 22nd, the workers tried to evict the scabs once more because the companies ignored the verdict of the courts. The Civil Guard and the National Police were there to prevent them.

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On June 15th '81, the Greek ship 'Trade Monter' was occupied to protest against the failure of the companies to implement the court's decision. Two days later, the occupation was called off, even though the companies still continued to ignore the courts. On June 8th, the Contemar company, in a letter to El Correo Catalan condemned the practice of sabotaging port machinery. From this chronology one can judge the bitterness of the conflict which in its second stage seems to carry us back to the 20s and the years of 'pistolerismo' when the Catalan ruling class supported by scab unions broke strikes and shot union leaders, forcing the worker's organisations to also shoot back..

At the height of summer a peace formula was finally agreed on. On July 8th, scabs left Mapor. A few days later, a rumour began to circulate about a possible local agreement concerning the port of Barcelona that might bring peace back to the port. Meanwhile, the courts ruled in favour of the sacked workers declaring an the sackings null and void, with the exception of 17 sackings, which were pronounced inadmissable in court.

CEOSA and Mapor rehired the sacked workers and the 17 workers whose case was declared inadmissable were returned to the Plaza the practice of sharing out work equally. Sacked workers belonging to Maritima Layetana have still not been re-' hired but they have been paid weekly by the company since.

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