Portuguese transport strike: Feed sector deliveries covered under minimal service rule, government hardens stance

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/jekershner7
© GettyImages/jekershner7

Related tags: Strike, labor

The Portuguese government has taken a hardline position against the threatened strike there by truckers’ unions, demanding 50-100% minimum transport services during the work stoppage, a level that would certainly lessen the impacts of any industrial action.

The truckers’ unions are furious at this development, saying such service provision would reduce the strike to one ‘in name only’, according to local media.

Typically, the Portuguese government sets legally mandated minimum services for transport strikes that can range from 25% and 70% of normal services.

The lorry drivers had been striving for minimum services of just 30%.

“The unions are holding meetings with their members until Saturday to decide what to do. The end of the strike is not a real possibility, but the government has hardened its position,”​ secretary-general of the Portuguese Association of Industrial Compound Feedingstuffs (IACA), Jaime Piçarra, told us.

He said the country’s feed sector has been included under the minimum service cover. IACA had warned of the consequences​ of it not being safeguarded in such a fashion. 

Hospitals, airports, and military installations qualify for 100% ‘service’, while companies carrying animal feed to farms are obliged to maintain a 75% ‘service’.

“The government said that if the drivers will not apply the minimal service, deliveries could be assured by the army,”​ said Piçarra earlier this week.

Hundreds of police agents and military are being ‘trained’ to take over driving duties, reported local media.

The country is seeing long queues at fuel stations in the run-up to Monday’s action. 

Rationale behind strike action 

The transport unions concerned, the Independent Merchandise Merchants Union (SIMM) and the National Union of Dangerous Goods Drivers (SNMMP), provide fuel and freight services, the transport of dangerous goods and goods essential to the Portuguese economy.

The drivers are threatening to strike indefinitely from Monday [August 12] over what they see as the precariousness of their working and social conditions.

The unions are calling for a base salary increase of €100 over the next three years, indexed to the increase in the minimum wage, improvement of working conditions and payment of overtime from eight working hours, among other measures.

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