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TAP strike will affect 1,316 flights and cost company up to €68 million

Strike will also “put at risk forecast relief in salary cuts”

Trouble-torn flagship airline TAP heard yesterday that its proposals to cabin crew syndicate SNPVAC still do not cut the mustard: the strike threatened from January 25 to 31 will still be going ahead – a situation that management believes will have a direct financial cost of €48 million, and indirect of another €20 million.

In all, 1,316 flights will be affected – and ‘forecast relief in salary cuts’ imposed by the company in line with its restructuring programme will be ‘put at risk’.

TAP has publicly lamented SNPVAC’s decision, alluding to the “serious consequences” it will have – but to be fair this outcome has been on the table for months.

TAP is in the process of being ‘tidied up for resale’ as the Portuguese government has turned 180º in its previous intentions, as believes now that the only future for the airline is re-privatisation.

Expresso today carries a text suggesting TAP is worth ‘up to €900 million’, and that the government is “accelerating the sale of the company” into which it has just ploughed €3.2 billion in taxpayers’ money.

To be fair, the government has been described as ‘accelerating the sale’ for months since last year.

Thus, while SNPVAC’s strike may have “serious consequences” for the restructuring process, the government’s takeover of TAP’s shareholding back in 2017 appears to have had “serious consequences” for the public purse.

That said, TAP has done its best to convince staff that a strike was not in anyone’s interest.

“Competition in this global industry is very strong and the company competes for the market with other companies on all the routes it operates. Any factor that undermines this customer confidence in TAP jeopardises the path of recovery that we have been following and all the joint effort and sacrifice that the workers have made,” said the company in a statement

Of the 14 points that were under negotiation, TAP and the SNPVAC have already reached agreement on 12, writes ECO online – possibly the reason why infrastructures minister João Galamba said early yesterday morning that he was ‘convinced’ SNPVAC would drop their strike plans. 

The  stumbling block came with “recognition of entry levels and respective payments (process CAB0 – CAB1)”, not accepted by management because “the issue is currently being dealt with in court, with some cases already decided in favour of TAP”, the company has said.

Also not accepted was the claim to have an extra cabin chief on long-haul aircraft (Airbus A330), as the withdrawal of this crew member had been “duly approved by the union and its members, being incorporated in the Emergency Agreement” signed in 2021. 

“Giving in on this measure would mean several million euros, added to the effort that all the accepted points already represent, in addition to putting TAP at a competitive disadvantage with its European peers who now have one less element as well,” the company argued.

TAP says it is building a contingency plan to try to mitigate the effects of the strike on passengers, “by adjusting operations, as well as by making it more flexible to alter travel scheduling and ticket refunds.”

Before yesterday’s general meeting, president of the crew union, Ricardo Penarroias, predicted that TAP’s proposal would be rejected: “Taxpayers have not put 3.2 billion into TAP so that the working conditions of workers are ground down, as has often been the case. That is what we are trying to avoid. We are fighting for our rights,” he told reporters.

natasha.donn@portugalresident.com