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2 June 2016

Portugal: Lisbon dockers victory against precarious work

Militant strike action blocks bosses attempts to undermine collective bargaining

João Félix, Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Portugal)

The Lisbon dockers' strike, which started on 20 April, has ended in a significant victory to the dockers!

The agreement reached guarantees that all the casual dockworkers (around 70) will be included in the collective agreement, effectively ending casualisation 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 casualisation 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 at home and abroad.

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 on 16 June against 'precarious employment'. Even after reaching the collective agreement, they have stepped up the call for the demonstration, making the point that it is to fight for the rights of all the working class.

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

Note: This article has been updated online on 2.6.16, so it isn't identical to the one published in the Socialist.

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