On Tuesday, March 31, the loading and unloading operations at the APM Terminals and the Total Terminal International Algeciras (TTIA) of Port of Algeciras were paralyzed for around 4 hours. This small strike was organized because the absence of more than 420 workers who are sick with the coronavirus has led to work overload on the remaining employees. The representatives of the stevedores demanded the workers be paid a bonus during the validity of the state of alarm due to the increase in risks and workload, something that the companies opposed doing.
So far, the companies and stevedores have held meetings almost every day to agree on the best way to maintain operations in the terminals and to reinforce prevention and hygiene measures to minimize the chances of exposure to the coronavirus. The Port of Algeciras is the main point of passage for goods in Spain, with 109.4 million tons in 2019.
"After this short strike we have continued to work normally," stated Alvaro Partida, the head of the Commercial Area of the customs agency and logistics operator of Partida Logistics. "There were some delays in the unloading of fruit from the southern hemisphere, such as avocados, mangoes, citrus, melon, and watermelon, as the traffic of merchandise has been limited to essential products, mainly fruit and vegetables, since the state of alarm was decreed because of the COVID-19. Fortunately, this allows us and the other operators at the port, including the stevedores, to continue working."
"The fruits and vegetables from Morocco, one of the largest suppliers for Spain, have been practically unaffected, as 95% of the products from this country come by truck, via ferries, and don't go through the container loading and unloading terminals," he said.
The sector's stowage sector and companies have had issues for years, stated Partida, "but this is, without a doubt, not the best time to paralyze Spain's most important merchandise port. We feel fortunate to be able to continue developing our logistics and customs operations, which have become harder in order to maintain hygiene measures and prevent infections. To do this, we have made internal changes in the presentation of documentation, avoiding unnecessary contact between staff. Moreover, in order to streamline the entry of merchandise and therefore supply, phytosanitary inspections, among other types of controls, have been made more flexible. The food is being dispatched as quickly as possible," he added.
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