Portugal: Lisbon dockers victory against precarious work

Militant strike action blocks bosses attempts to undermine collective bargaining

The Lisbon Dockers strike, which started in 20th of April, ended up with a significant victory to the Dockers!

The agreement reached included 23 casualised workers in the collective contract, negotiate a new pay table and automatic career progression. They guaranteed that all the casual dockworkers (almost 70 of them) will be included in the collective agreement, effectively ending casualization in the Lisbon Port, in exchange for not increasing their salary this year. The dockers also forced the employers to stop using the parallel company created to hire casual workers. The threat of collective lay-off, a desperate move by the bosses, was also dropped.

This is a stunning victory against a brutal attempt by the Lisbon Port private companies to impose zero-hour contracts, cut pay, force casualization and attack workers’ rights.

During the strike, dockworkers were relentlessly attacked by the capitalist class and the media. The fact that they held steadfast is a testament to their courage, but, more importantly, shows the importance and the power of the organised working class, internationalism and class solidarity. The Lisbon Dockers are internationally organised in the International Dockworkers Council, and were supported from important layers of other workers and trade unions, both home and abroad.

This result also shows the level of class consciousness among the dockers. The Dockers Trade Union is democratically run, and has been calling for the nationalisation of the Port sector. They have always supported workers’ struggles and called a Demonstration against precarious labour for 16 June. Even after reaching the collective agreement, they step up the call for the demonstration, making the point that it was to fight for the rights of all the working class. The working class should fight with them.

The victory of the Lisbon Dockers is a prime example of how an organised and militant trade union can defeat the bosses.

It shows that only a democratically organised and determined workers movement can change society from a chaotic and profit based economy under capitalism, to a democratic system that plans and provides for the needs of many – a socialist society.

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June 2016