Eva and Frota Azul bus companies to temporarily lay off half its workforce

The Algarve’s Eva and Frota Azul bus companies will temporarily lay off half of its workforce in April under the government’s new lay-off regime, with workers receiving 70% of their wages if their contract is suspended or working hours are reduced.

The decision follows a “brutal drop in activity in terms of everything tourism-related in the Algarve,” Eva Transportes SA CEO Ricardo Afonso told Barlavento newspaper.

“Activity is down to zero. Our Expresso (long-distance travel) network has also seen a sharp decline of over 80% as have our regular networks due to the fact that people are staying home,” the bus company chief explained.

As the companies want to “safeguard all jobs and resume activity as soon as possible, our only solution was to resort to this measure,” he added.

As Eva and Frota Azul employ around 500 people, the measure will affect around 250 workers.

According to Ricardo Afonso, many workers have reacted with “relief” to the news.

“They prefer to be put on the lay-off regime than lose their jobs. This (lay off) is the only alternative we have. People understand that to protect the company and their job, they have to accept this situation.”

The companies will continue to guarantee “minimum services”, such as a handful of Expresso buses and regional networks. Municipal bus networks are not included and will continue being operated by local councils.