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Key meeting on Monday to discuss July 1-3 airport strike

A key meeting is scheduled for Monday (June 27) to determine whether a scheduled strike will in fact move forward and bring national airports to a standstill next weekend (July 1-3).

Planning and Infrastructure Minister Pedro Marques will meet with airport and aviation staff union SITAVA to negotiate terms and try to stop the strike, a union source told the Resident.

A definite decision is expected after the meeting.

The issue centres mainly on the “precarious working conditions” of Portugal’s airport baggage handling employees.

SITAVA demands the government intervene to stop Groundlink – Ryanair’s baggage handling company – from operating in Portugal. The union says the handler operates “fraudulently” and does not “respect workers’ rights”.

The union also accuses it of “unfair competition” as it “does not comply with the sector’s rules” (a similar argument to the one used by Portugal’s taxi associations regarding Uber).

SITAVA believes Groundlink’s “unfair competition” is one of the main reasons national handler Portway has carried out the mass-dismissal of 256 employees.

But the union also condemns Vinci – which manages Portway – for how easily it sacks its workers. If the strike is to be aborted, it wants Vinci to change its attitude.

Finally, SITAVA also wants the government to withdraw a previous ruling by the PSD/CDS-PP government that allowed a third handling company to operate at Lisbon’s Airport – a recommendation that was already approved by Parliament on March 31 with favourable votes from PS, PCP, Bloco de Esquerda and PEV.

After announcing the union’s demands at the beginning of June, SITAVA president Fernando Henriques said the strike would be cancelled if the government followed its recommendations until June 30.

If the strike moves forward, it will involve Portway, Groundforce and all other employees who work through temporary work agencies.

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