IPMA meteorologists on strike
Image: Inácio Rosa/ Lusa

IPMA meteorologists on strike

Strike has “totally paralysed aeronautical observation”

On the face of it, a strike by weather forecasters doesn’t sound that dramatic – particularly in the high summer where every day brings wall-to-wall sunshine.

But today’s strike by shift workers at IPMA (Portugal’s institute for sea and atmosphere) has brought “aeronautical observation” to a standstill. And that could have dramatic consequences, in that pilots will not be advised of untoward weather anomalies (if indeed there are any).

For now, the strike day has had ‘adherence’ of between 95% to 100%, and Elisabete Gonçalves – leader of the national federation of unions of workers in public and social functions – stresses that IPMA workers on aeronautical observation “know the work they do, and are ensuring the emergency and calamity situations that may arise” – suggesting aeronautical observation is paralysed only in the abstract… 

Today’s strike is not across the whole IPMA service; it is confined to meteorologists employed at the country’s airports.

Lusa news agency remarks that the entity’s website is currently only carrying its “traditional descriptive forecasts for the Azores. On the mainland and Madeira it reads “no information due to strike.

“Meteorologists also say that “in fulfilment of IPMA’s Public Service Mission, meteorological surveillance will not be interrupted. Information to safeguard lives and property will be made available”.

At the root of today’s industrial action (falling on a Bank Holiday), is the demand by shift workers to be paid for working on public holidays; to be given their own ‘career recognition’ (they want to be known as ‘geophysical and meteorological observers’) and proper regulations over shift work. There is also an issue of staffing shortages.

The federation met with the Secretaries of State for the Sea and Fisheries in June, and “a new meeting was agreed in early July”, which did not take place. “We put the situation to the workers and they decided to move towards a struggle action such as a strike,” explained Gonçalves.

The government meanwhile has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to discuss proposals for potentially resolving the situation, she told Lusa.

Source: Lusa