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Strike disrupts Spanish ports and trade routes

Staff Writer |
Some of Spain's biggest port terminals came to a standstill on Monday as shipping companies redirected cargos to avoid a dockers' strike.

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After months of talks between unions, companies and the Spanish government over a reform of port hiring practices, dockers held the first of several planned strikes to protest against possible job losses.

Some container shipping firms such as Maersk re-routed boats destined for the southern port of Algeciras to get around the strike, during which dockers will stop working every other hour on Monday, Wednesday and Friday this week.

Alternative destinations used by firms included Portugal, Morocco and Malta.

Five further days of industrial action have also been called for next week, raising the prospect that the shift to rival ports could have lasting consequences, especially for those handling merchandise not ultimately destined for Spain.

Algeciras is a trans-shipment hub used by firms to unload cargo and redistribute it onto other boats heading elsewhere in Europe or the Middle East.

An Algericas terminal operated by APM, which belongs to the Maersk Group, had ground to a halt on Monday as there were no ships, a port spokeswoman said. A second smaller terminal was operating during the hours between the strike.

Valencia, on the eastern Mediterranean coast and the biggest export and import port in Spain, was functioning during the appointed hours, a spokesman said.

Spanish companies adjusted their production strategies, staggering exports or speeding them up before the strike, to limit the knock-on effects on their business.

About two thirds of Spain's imports and exports, a key element of the recovering economy, are moved through the country's docks.

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