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Stevedores in Portugal end strike, unblocking VW car shipments

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LISBON (Reuters) - Striking stevedores at the Portuguese port of Setubal and the port administration reached a deal on Friday to end a strike that started 40 days ago and has blocked shipments of over 20,000 cars from a Volkswagen plant nearby.

"Loadings can start today if there are ships ready," said Renato Teixeira, a spokesman for the SEAL union, explaining that the government-brokered deal involved contracts for dozens of stevedores who previously had precarious conditions, usually hired for just a day's work.

The Volkswagen Autoeuropa plant near Lisbon is Portugal's single largest exporter. It makes more than 880 cars per day, including the new T-Roc SUV.

Volkswagen Autoeuropa has said no alternative shipping route is capable of handling its production volume.

Over 20,000 cars have piled up at the port, the plant and at a local airforce base which agreed to provide parking space to Volkswagen, as the strike forced the German manufacturer to cancel over 10 regular shipments.

At one point last month, strikebreakers were hired to load a Volkswagen transport ship and police broke up a picket line of striking workers.

Over two-thirds of Setubal stevedores had no contracts and the government earlier this week said their conditions were unfair and excessive.

(Reporting by Andrei Khalip; editing by Axel Bugge and Andrew Roche)

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