Airport workers across Portugal could be set to strike this month

Aug 4, 2022

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Tens of thousands of travellers to Portugal could face chaos and cancellations this month after workers at ten of the country’s airports threatened to strike.

Ground handlers, cabin crew, security staff and fire services are among the employees who could walk out from 19 to 21 August in airports across the country if their demands for higher wages aren’t met, unions said.

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The strike threat by Portugal’s Civil Aviation Workers’ Union (SINTAC) and the Commercial Aviation Staff Union (SQAC) is the latest in a series of walkouts at a time Europe’s transport sector continues to wobble under the surge in post-pandemic traveller numbers.

They claim that Portugal’s airport authority, ANA, and its French parent company Vinci have made millions since travel resumed last year, but continue to underpay their staff.

The unions have also demanded that ANA and Vinci adopt “urgent” measures to guarantee workers feel safe in their jobs, including wage rises and pension boosts.

“Only by doing this (strike) we will be able to achieve what the company has been lacking for a long time: social stability, respect for workers’ rights and, fundamentally, for people,” the unions said.

Related: Lufthansa pilots vote for potential strike action

ANA is responsible for managing 10 airports in Portugal which include:

  • Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport (LIS)
  • Porto’s Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport (OPO)
  • Faro Airport (FAO)
  • Beja Airport (BYJ)
  • Ponta Delgada Airport João Paulo II (PDL)
  • Horta Airport (HOR)
  • Santa Maria Airport (SMA)
  • Aeroporto das Flores (FLW)
  • Madeira Airport (FNC)
  • Porto Santo Airport (PXO)

According to its website, the company employs a gamut of roles within those airports, including operational management, ground handling, airport operations, rescue operations, safety and security, as well as “planning, researching, developing and monitoring systems, equipment and facilities that collectively make up each airport and the company infrastructure.”

In a statement, ANA said it regretted the unions’ decision to strike as salaries were reviewed in April and bonuses were given to workers. Vinci did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Related: EasyJet pilots in Spain are planning nine days of strike action in August

“ANA will continue to promote dialogue with social partners and will continue the ongoing negotiation,” ANA said.

It is the latest in a wave of strike actions sweeping across Europe as the aviation industry grapples with widespread worker unrest over post-pandemic pay and conditions.

Just this week pilots at Luftansa threatened to walk out in a dispute over pay, while air traffic controllers in Spain warned in early July they were likely to call a strike if state-owned air navigation company Enaire failed to hire more staff for the peak summer season.

Featured image by Loic Lagarde / Getty images.

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