As the countdown begins towards the 10-day strike at TAP called by pilots’ union SPAC, a national newspaper has revealed that hundreds of pilots are against the walkout and may even create a new union to boycott it altogether.
Diário de Notícias claims “a third of the pilots” are at loggerheads with their union, quoting one as saying “we are far from the unanimity of the past”.
But SPAC has retaliated, inferring that the story is a ruse to “divide and conquer” by factions that “erroneously believe” pilots can be “fractured”.
Against this backdrop, talks are going ahead today and tomorrow with the government – with ministers including economy minister Pires de Lima calling for “humility”, saying pilots still had time to make up for the human error by cancelling their strike action, and that not doing so would show a “lack of sense and intelligence”.
A strike would not only seriously compromise TAP’s very survival, it would hit the economy, in terms of tourism particularly, hard.
Tourist chiefs have already appealed to unions to “see sense” and cancel the plans, and even the Algarve business association ACRAL has come out to call for the urgent need for a truce.
Calling the pilots’ stance “irresponsible”, ACRAL president Vítor Guerreiro has said the strike not only stands to lose TAP another €70 million – on top of €85 million losses recently published – but threatens to damage the image of the country.
It’s a stand taken endlessly by all those in government. But the issue centres on what SPAC calls “broken promises” – made not only over the years, but last December when pilots were poised to call a strike over the Christmas holiday period.