João Galamba
João Galamba has scored a hit in his first ministerial intervention. Image: António Pedro Santos/ Lusa

New minister’s first intervention sees port workers call-off damaging strike

Infrastructures boss João Galamba manages to ‘buy time’

The first intervention of Portugal’s new minister for Infrastructures, João Galamba, has scored an instant bulls-eye.

The former energy secretary has persuaded ports workers syndicate SNTAP to call off the strike it has been waging – winning himself three months ‘breathing space’ “to evaluate the projects” inherited from outgoing minister Pedro Nuno Santos.

SNTAP president Serafim Gomes told Lusa this morning: “We decided to call the strike off. We had scheduled it precisely because there had been an absence of dialogue”, but Mr Galamba “has shown himself to be very open to dialogue – an open and frank dialogue”.

The meeting between Mr Galamba and syndicate representatives today “showed great willingness for projects to give ports the importance they deserve”, Serafim Gomes said.

“A deadline of three months has been set for these projects to be developed and our expectation is that the problems we had put on the table will also be solved,” he added.

Considering the ports workers strike has been in place since December 22 – and is already giving the country ‘a bad image’ from the point of view of imports/ exports – this could hardly have been a better result.

Serafim Gomes also highlighted the ‘positive’ fact (in his opinion) that João Galamba has not delegated ports issues to a Secretary of State, as Pedro Nuno Santos had done (and which led to negotiations breaking down).

The next step is for syndicate leaders to meet at the Infrastructures ministry to hear more details of Mr Galamba’s ideas for ports in the future.

AIP, the Portuguese Industrial Association, warned last Friday that “serious (financial) damages)” were being caused by the strike and the government’s ‘failure’ to open a channel of negotiation.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com