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Spanish metalworkers to end strike after reaching pay deal


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© Reuters. Trash dumpsters are set on fire during a metalworkers’ strike in Puerto Real, near Cadiz, Spain, November 24, 2021. REUTERS/Jon Nazca

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By Jon Nazca

CADIZ, Spain (Reuters) -Metalworkers unions in the southern Spanish city of Cadiz reached a preliminary pay deal with employers late on Wednesday, ending a nine-day strike involving some 20,000 workers that produced tense confrontations with police.

A spokesperson for the UGT union confirmed a deal had been reached but did not provide details of the accord, which must still be ratified by union delegates at each company.

“I am pleased that companies and metalworkers have reached an agreement,” regional leader Juanma Moreno tweeted.

The strike began on Nov. 16, after unions and the FEMCA association of 700 local metal-working companies failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement.

Picketing workers cut access to Cadiz’s main industrial zone with bonfires and blockades.

Police and unions say the demonstrations were largely peaceful but occasionally turned violent, with police firing rubber bullets and charging protesters who hurled rocks and set fire to rubbish containers.

Two people were arrested over the course of the strike.

Though multinationals in the area like Airbus, ACS subsidiary Dragados Offshore, and shipbuilder Navantia were not involved in the strike, their operations have been disrupted.

An Airbus spokesperson said that since the strike began, workers at the Puerto de Santa Maria plant had been unable to get past the picket lines, and were only able to enter on Wednesday with police assistance.

Labour relations have long been strained in the historic port town on Spain’s Atlantic coast, which suffers from one of the country’s highest unemployment rates despite being home to a major industrial hub and several tourist draws.

With inflation running at a near three-decade high, unions wanted wage increases to be linked to the consumer-price index to ensure workers do not lose purchasing power.

Both sides traded accusations of inflexibility over five rounds of abortive talks before finally striking a deal at a sixth negotiation in Seville on Wednesday.

(Additional reporting and writing by Nathan Allen; Editing by Andrei Khalip, Jan Harvey and Andrea Ricci)

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