Lisbon docks

Dockworkers strike against alleged rights violations

Actions at Lisbon and Setúbal docks action scheduled to last until November 5

Dockworkers in the ports of Lisbon and Setubal began industrial action today, in protest against alleged violations of the right to strike, in an action that is scheduled to last until November 5.

SEAL, the Union of Stevedoring and Logistics Activity submitted their pre-strike notice last month: “The National Union of Stevedoring, Traffic Workers, Sea Freight Forwarders and Others, in the name and on behalf of port workers integrated in its statutory scope, who carry out their professional activity in the areas of the ports of Lisbon and Setúbal, declares a strike to provide work in these ports, from 8 am on July 5, 2023 until 8 am on November 5, 2023.” 

The issue at stake, according to the union, is alleged violations over the last three years of the right to strike, by companies operating at the port of Lisbon, in hiring workers from third-party companies to carry out jobs covered by SEAL strike notices.

SEAL explains the struggle “began because all port operating companies decided, together, in a totally concerted way, to submit to insolvency the port labour outsourcing company of which they were the only associates and simultaneously the only clients, the A-ETPL.” 

The union stresses that its industrial action “will not end until the problem is resolved, by the companies or by the courts.

“All port Operator Groups operating at the Port of Lisbon are using this ‘stratagem’, in a clear manifestation of fraud against the law (the ETE Group operates all ships offshore in this system), with full connivance of ACT (the State’s labour authority) which, at the Port of Lisbon, does not act at all, which is why civil and criminal liability actions for violations of the right to strike that were being prepared before the start of negotiations with the Yildirim Group will now proceed,” the union continues.

According to SEAL, “the strike will involve all permanent port workers and also those with contractual port labour contracts of limited duration, whose employers or users are the port labour companies and stevedoring companies operating in those ports, also including in the scope of the strike companies holding rights of private use in the respective port areas.”

The union says “the strike will take the form of abstaining from work in all stevedoring companies at the Port of Lisbon … in all operations carried out, whatever the period of work, normal or overtime, for the execution of which the employers or users of port labour hire or place workers who are strangers to the profession and who were not part of the effective and possible contingent on February 4, 2020.”

In the port of Setúbal, SEAL said, the strike “will be restricted to abstaining from work on ships and cargoes that, in the context of the strike, have been diverted from the port of Lisbon to this port from February 4, 2020 until the final limit set in the strike notice.”