Staff at Portugal’s national ports staged a five-day stoppage this week from Monday, paralysing the country’s shipping terminals.
The cost of the strike, over the bankruptcy and closure of the company that runs the Port of Aveiro (Empresa de Trabalho Portuário do Porto de Aveiro), is expected to run into tens of millions of Euros at a time when Portugal’s only current exit strategy from economic crisis and recession is being driven by exports abroad.
Workers at the country’s main ports, including Viana do Castelo, which is already close to bankruptcy, Aveiro, Figueira da Foz, Lisbon, Setúbal, Sines and Caniçal (Madeira) all downed tools from midnight on Sunday.
The only port so far that is still operating and open for business is the Port of Leixões near Porto.
“Imports and exports will not be able to enter and leave in the usual manner which will have a knock-on effect on product costs,” warned the managing director of the Portuguese association for navigation agents (Associação dos Agentes de Navigação), Belmar da Costa.
He also warned that the strike would create a backlog of goods for export, delaying shipping.
The strike was called by the Confederation of Maritime and Port Unions (Fesmarpor) which has predicted a 100% participation.
They called it because the bankrupt company which runs the Port of Aveiro is to close with the loss of 62 jobs.
Vítor Dias, vice president of Fesmarpor, explained that the federation of unions had decided upon the action in response to the decision to announce the bankruptcy of the Aveiro port company ETP de Aveiro.
The unions accuse the company’s shareholders of ending the full-time contracts of the 62 employees.