National airport authority ANA has issued a warning for anyone flying from Portugal this weekend (July 1-3) to “arrive early at airports and check in for their flights online” due to a scheduled strike that is expected to have a “significant impact”.
The airport operator advises passengers to contact their airlines or travel agencies to “check the status of their flights”.
People with disabilities are also encouraged to request boarding support “in advance”.
The nationwide strike was called by airport and aviation staff union SITAVA and centres mainly on the “precarious working conditions” of Portugal’s airport baggage handling employees.
SITAVA president Fernando Henriques told the Resident earlier this week that he expected the strike to be the “biggest ever” in Portugal’s aviation industry.
The union met with the government on Monday to discuss its demands, but the meeting was “fruitless”.
SITAVA has three main demands. First, it wants the government to intervene to stop Groundlink – Ryanair’s baggage handling company – from operating in Portugal. The union says the handler operates “fraudulently” and does not “respect workers’ rights”.
The union also accuses it of “unfair competition” as it “does not comply with the sector’s rules”.
SITAVA believes Groundlink’s “unfair competition” is one of the main reasons national handler Portway has carried out the mass-dismissal of 256 employees.
But the union also condemns Vinci – which manages Portway – for how easily it sacks its workers. If the strike is to be aborted, it wants Vinci to change its attitude.
Finally, SITAVA also wants the government to withdraw a previous ruling by the PSD/CDS-PP government that allowed a third handling company to operate at Lisbon’s airport – a recommendation that was already approved by parliament on March 31 with favourable votes from PS, PCP, Bloco de Esquerda and PEV.
Air traffic controllers’ strike called off
Meantime, a strike that had been announced by NAV, Portugal’s air traffic control entity, for today (June 30) as well as four days in July has been called off.
Six unions representing NAV had complained that the entity had been functioning without an administration board and felt like it had been “abandoned”.
On Wednesday, Portugal’s Planning and Infrastructure Ministry confirmed that a new three-person board had been appointed, thus the strike was called off.
NAV’s employees and its unions said in a statement that they believe things will return to normal now after “months of abandonment.”