Energetic crisis: Truckers “won’t comply with minimum services”
Striking truckers will refuse to comply with the ‘minimum services’ set out by the government (click here).
With the full-scale strike powered by the SNMMP (syndicate of drivers of dangerous materials) now in force, syndicate vice-president Pedro Pardal Henriques has threatened this consequence as the ‘energetic crisis’ declared by the government moves into its first week.
Talking to journalists from picket lines earlier today, Henriques said: “I have never seen anything like this in Portugal. This (massive) police presence and force to stop people exercising the right to strike. There are people who are being bribed by companies not to exercise the right to strike and others who are pressured in the name of the government with this police presence and now forces of the military are impeding the legitimate right to strike”.
Employers association ANTRAM views the situation differently, stressing that while truckers maintain their stance, there can be no further negotiations.
The government meantime is poised to declare a ‘civil requisition’ – which would mean any drivers refusing to comply with minimum services risks a prison sentence of up to two years.
As the country holds its breath hoping for some kind of truce, TV commentator Luís Marques Mendes has suggested powermakers’ hardline may actually help the PS Socialist Party win an absolute majority in looming legislative elections, scheduled for October.
In Marques Mendes’ opinion it is the government that is showing political ‘savvy’ and preparedness in this chaotic situation while the syndicates are showing “a lack of negotiational intelligence”.
For updates over the course of today, see below:
And for any holidaymakers bound for Azores and Madeira news is that syndicates there have not adhered to the strike, thus fuel is readily available.
9pm: Portuguese radio news announces that Easyjet is already warning passengers that planes may have to make unauthorised stops in order to refuel outside Portugal.
7pm: 19 hours after the start of this strike and the government has actioned a ‘civil requisition’. This is the third time this government has resorted to such a mechanism to override strike action – previously it was with nurses furious over years of ‘prevarication’.
Truckers, predictably, are calling the development an attack on their constitutional right to strike.
Whether this signals a decisive turning point in the strike, or whether it sees both sides hunkering down is what remains to be seen.
GNR and PSP are already transporting certain goods by truck to certain areas, including the Algarve.
PM Costa says the “most complicated situation” is in the Algarve, for the simple reason of it being furthest aware from the majority of supply points.
Ministers due to meet later today and may end up imposing civil requisition.
André Matias, the spokesperson for employers association ANTRAM “believes the only way to reach an agreement with syndicates” is for Pedro Pardal Henriques to “leave the negotiating table”.
Meantime, reporters in the Algarve have discovered a number of fuel stations in the REPA network – the sites where fuel should be ensured – (for list click here), have run out of both diesel and petrol with no delivery tankers yet in sight.
To keep up to date with the situation at local fuel stations, click here
Giving a brief press update at 10.20 this morning, prime minister António Costa said that as far as the authorities are concerned, there is not yet any reason to activate a civil requisition. In his view, ‘minimum services’ ARE being adhered to, and as yet there has been no case of any driver refusing to deliver fuel or any other cargo.
Hoteliers too, particularly in the Algarve, have said that for the time being at least there is no need for concern as they have reserves of fuel and gas that will last seven days.
Faro airport is understood to have fuel reserves for the next few days.