Ground Handling

Flights disrupted as three-day strike begins

Portway advises confirming flights with airlines before heading to airport

Employees of ground handling company Portway began a three-day strike this Friday at Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Madeira airports, called by the National Union of Civil Aviation Workers (SINTAC), which is already causing significant disruption.

The strike has already led to the cancellation of 83 flights at Lisbon and Porto airports, according to information on airport authority ANA’s website.

The strike, which is to run through Sunday, challenges “the HR (human resources) policy adopted over the last few years by Portway, a company owned by the Vinci group, of confrontation and devaluation of workers through consecutive breaches of the Company Agreement, disciplinary confrontation, lack of salary updates, misrepresentation of performance evaluations that prevent salary progressions and bad faith in negotiations,” said the union in a statement.

The union accuses Portway of fostering a “climate of psychological terror, where threats and disciplinary proceedings proliferate, creating social instability unparalleled in the company’s history”.

SINTAC demands that the company comply with the 2016 Company Agreement and a policy of performance assessment that is not aimed at preventing career progression.

Sintac also wants 100% holiday pay for all employees and immediate salary increases that take inflation into account.

ANA – Aeroportos de Portugal and Portway on Thursday warned of possible disruption to flights by the 22 airlines operating at Portugal’s airports.

In a statement published on their websites, ANA, which is owned by France’s Vinci, and Portway, which is part of the same group, published a list of “airlines whose flights could be affected by the strike called by a union” at the handling company.

The airlines concerned are Aegean, Air Canada, Air Transat, American Airlines, Blue Air, Brussels, Cape Verde Airlines, Easyjet, Euroatlantic, European Air Transport, Eurowings, Finnair, Flyone, Latam, Luxair, Swiftair, Transavia, Transavia France, Tunisair, Turkish Airlines, Volotea and Wizzair. These use Portway’s services; there is one other handling company in Portugal, Groundforce.

In a statement on Thursday morning, Portway warned of the possibility of capacity constraints at national airports due to the strike, lamenting “the inconvenience that this situation will cause passengers.”

Given the impact that the strike may have on airport operations, the company also advised travellers to confirm their flights with airlines before heading to the airport. Details of airlines affected by the strike are being kept updated online.

The union and Portway failed to reach agreement on the definition of skeleton services during the strike, in a meeting with the Directorate General for Employment and Labour Relations (DGERT).

SINTAC said that it was aware that employees from temporary employment agencies might be called in “with almost zero experience, which could put flight safety at risk.” Portway, for its part, said it “vehemently repudiates any accusation of compromise or operational sloppiness.”

This week, SINTAC also accused the government of having issued an order “that violates the right to strike” of Portway workers who provide assistance to people with reduced mobility in national airports, and requested the intervention of the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT), saying that Portway was undermining the rights of workers.

Source: Lusa