Spain's parliament passes port reform to avoid EU fines

MADRID (AP) — Spain's parliament has approved a government bill to liberalize the country's port operations and avoid hefty European Union fines, but dockworker unions have threatened to oppose it with strikes.

The bill passed Thursday seeks to end a decades-old monopoly by a workers' association on who gets employed at the ports.

Dockworker unions have threatened to begin strikes over three weeks on May 24 if jobs are threatened.

The government has said the decree meets EU requirements and promises a second one that includes early retirement funds and agreements reached between employers and unions, which it hopes will avert the strikes.

Spain had faced accumulated fines of around 25 million euros ($28 million).

The minority conservative government needed the support of several opposition parties to pass the decree.