Euro 2004 strike threat

Portuguese lorry drivers have threatened to strike for an unspecified period of time during the Euro 2004 championship in June, a move that could jeopardise the supply of fuel at airports and service stations and threaten both internal and international transportation.

The head of the Federation of Road and Urban Transport Unions (Festru), Vítor Pereira, has stressed that the planned strike action is serious and will only be averted if the management (ANTRAM), “changes its position and negotiates salaries with workers”.

Pereira gave an assurance that, during the proposed strike period, vital services, such as the supply of fuel to hospitals, would not be compromised and also promised that no action would be taken that could endanger human life. But he also issued this warning to the management: “If the goods sector becomes paralysed, then fuel supply points will run dry after two or three days of the strike action, as was the case five years ago.”

A spokesman for Festru, a union representing 30,000 lorry drivers, claims that ANTRAM is deregulating the sector and using the government’s new Work Code to “pretend that the current collective contract does not exist”. Festru members have also accused the management of trying to impose a new code that reneges on previously agreed timetables and reduces drivers’ entitlements, holidays and risk subsidies. The union claims that most lorry drivers work anything up to 18 hours a day, endangering their own and other people’s lives, as well as undermining family life. There was a further blow to security preparations for Euro 2004 as newspapers reported rumours of a strike by police, due to take place a month before the tournament kicks off. An uncorroborated report stated that officers were ready to stage a walk-out in April, after all police leave was cancelled during the football tournament, leaving officers apparently furious that no overtime agreement has been reached. Although police officers are known to be displeased by the cancellation of leave during the finals and the absence of an agreement regarding overtime, a spokesperson for the public relations office of the PSP in Lisbon dismissed the strike threat and the frightening prospect of the streets of Portugal being left unpatrolled as the influx of fans begins to arrive as merely “an unsubstantiated rumour”.