Government puts brakes on TAP strike

Government puts brakes on TAP strike

The Portuguese government has issued a “rare executive order” to stop the four-day strike TAP workers have planned for the Christmas and New Year period.
Called a “requisição civil”, it means 70% of the airline’s workers – the amount considered “the minimum” required for the airline to function – will have to give up their right to strike in order to ensure the over 1,100 flights scheduled for between December 27 and 30.
It was the government’s “last resort”, economy minister Pires de Lima said, explaining that the strike would have caused “hundreds of millions of euros worth of losses for the tourism sector” and affect the country’s “image”. It would also have prevented many Portuguese abroad from coming home for the holiday season.
“This is Christmas we are talking about. If it weren’t Christmas, maybe the government’s stance would be different,” he said, adding that he hopes the order will be “respected” by TAP workers.
But as Público newspaper pointed out, employees can simply skip work as long as they justify their absence.
Unions representing most of TAP’s 7,500 or so employees intended to strike in protest of the government’s privatisation plan for the airline.
Workers’ union UGT is against the government’s plans, saying “courts have made it clear that the government can only put forward a ‘requisição civil’ either once the strike is already taking place or when its real consequences are already known”.
As it is still unclear whether TAP will lack the “minimum amount of workers” needed to keep the planes in the air, the government’s decision is considered by UGT to be “premature”.
This government order is rarely used as it is only applicable in light of “particularly serious circumstances, to ensure the normal functioning of essential services of public interest and vital sectors of the national economy”.
Just last week, Público reported that over 5,000 passengers had already changed their flight or asked for compensation following news of the strike.