Groundforce appealed this Sunday to reach “an agreement that enables the payment of what is owed to the workers” of the company, whose strike caused the cancellation of 650 of the 1,049 scheduled flights. The Portuguese Tourism Confederation considers it urgent to reach an agreement or move forward with the civil requisition.
The Confederation of Tourism of Portugal defended, this Sunday, that it is completely unacceptable the situation that has been lived in national airports because of the strike at Groundforce, which caused the cancellation of more than half of the flights planned for the weekend and constraints in the delivery of passengers’ luggage, which can take more than three days to arrive to fate.
Thus, the president of the Portuguese Tourism Confederation, Francisco Calheiros, argues that it is urgent that workers and the administration of the company that handles baggage reach an agreement. Otherwise, the Government must move to civil requisition, writes the TSF.
But also Groundforce “considers fundamental that an agreement be quickly reached that enables the payment of what is owed to the workers”, the company wrote in a statement.
In this way, the ‘handling’ company asks “to TAP [Transportadora Aérea Portuguesa] and to the unions to resume dialogue in the coming days, preventing the situation experienced this weekend at national airports repeat at the end of the month“.
However, André Teives, president of the Union of Airport Handling Technicians, said yesterday that he had not received any contact with the aim of finding a solution to the salary instability, writes Jornal de Notícias.
Regarding the strike that took place over the weekend, “until 6:30 pm on Sunday, the Groundforce operation in Lisboa returned to be the most affected”, since “81.2% of the company’s workers adhered to the strike, which made it impossible to carry out 309 flights”.
Already at Porto airport, “attendance was 48.7% and led to the cancellation of 44 flights”, while in Faro “it was 9.3% and compromised eight air movements”.
In the Madeira archipelago, “12 flights were cancelled” in Funchal, “as a result of the adhesion of 25.7% of workers”, and in Porto Santo “there were not 10 of the 28 scheduled flights”.
“Over the weekend, between departures and arrivals, of the 1,049 scheduled flights, only 399 were carried out, with the remaining 650 been canceled“, told Groundforce.
According to ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal, the second day of the strike by workers at the ‘handling’ company led to the cancellation of 321 (166 arrivals and 155 departures) of the 515 flights scheduled for this Sunday at Lisbon airport, with the forecast of being operated a total of 194 (95 arrivals and 99 departures).
Airlines that use Terminal 2 at the airport in the Portuguese capital – the low cost – and those that operate with another ground handling company, other than Groundforce, maintain their regular operation, assured the airport company.
According to ANA, 37 flights were canceled at Porto airport this Sunday, at Faro airport seven flights were canceled and, in Madeira and Porto Santo, the strike led to the cancellation of six flights at each of the airports.
This Sunday was the second day of the strike called by the Union of Airport Handling Technicians (STHA), as a protest for the “unsustainable instability situation, regarding the timely payment of wages and other pecuniary components” that Groundforce workers have faced since February 2021.
Recourse to civil requisition on the table
The stoppage will continue for days July 31st, August 1st and 2nd, for which the president of the Confederation of Tourism of Portugal, defends, on the one hand, the use of “civil requisition” and, on the other, that the workers and the company’s administration reach an agreement.
“Groundforce says that TAP owes the company money and TAP says that these amounts are not owed. We are at an impasse and it is urgent – for yesterday – for the Government to intervene”, says Francisco Calheiros.
“We can’t, under any circumstances, have another thousand flights canceled on July 31st and August 1st and 2nd. The right to strike is constitutionally provided for, but this cannot harm thousands and thousands of people and harm, as it is harming, the country’s image. I am apologist for any measure that prevents the repetition of something that will already give a very negative image of Portugal. If necessary, it is a civil requisition, let it be made”, he maintained, in statements to the TSF.
“Has anyone ever gone to the trouble of calculating the costs of so many canceled flights? The costs of tests that were carried out? What compensation will you have to give? If we put 150 people on each flight, the 10,000 people who stopped traveling, coming here and consuming in Portugal? And, above all, what is the image that we are transmitting of our country?”, he asked.
In addition to this strike, since July 15th, Groundforce workers are also carrying out an overtime strike, which lasts until midnight on October 31st, 2021.
Groundforce is 50.1% owned by Pasogal and 49.9% by the TAP group, which, in 2020, became 72.5% owned by the Portuguese State.
TAP assured on Saturday that it has no arrears to Groundforce, after the ‘handling’ company accused the airline of having a debt of 12 million euros for services already provided.
Sofia Teixeira Santos, ZAP // Portuguese