November 22, 2018 17:02 CET
LISBON — Volkswagen Group has been forced to cancel seven car shipments from the Portuguese port of Setubal as local stevedores strike over working conditions.
Thousands of cars from a nearby plant that builds the new T-Roc SUV, have piled up at the port and at the Palmela plant since the strike began on Nov. 5.
VW said in a statement the ship’s loading on Thursday was made possible thanks to guarantees provided by the government and the port operator. It said no alternative shipping route was capable of handling its production volume.
The plant makes more than 880 cars per day, including the T-Roc SUV and the Seat Alhambra and VW Sharan minivans, according to Automotive News Europe assembly plant map. Palmela is Portugal’s single largest exporter.
On Thursday, Police in riot gear broke up a picket line of striking stevedores to clear the way for strikebreakers hired to resume shipments of from the plant.
Stevedores tore down the fences around the main access road to the port and sat and lay in front of a bus with strikebreakers before police dragged them away.
The Stevedores’ union SEAL accuses the port authorities of a “criminal wage discrimination” against the majority of stevedores who have no permanent contracts and are usually hired for a day’s job.
The union said 30 strikebreakers had been hired specifically by VW to load the ship with about 2,000 cars that had been piling up at the port.
VW would not comment on the hiring of strikebreakers.
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