The 12 labor unions representing the workers at TAP Air Portugal are deliberating to stage a four-day general strike over the festive period, between Christmas and New Year. If not averted, the strike will be held on December 27, 28, 29 and 30.
Poor working conditions, and the government plans to privatizing TAP Air Portugal, were cited by union representatives as the reasons for the strikes. TAP employs over 12,000 workers.
Last week, representatives of the national union of civil aviation workers (SNPVAC) submitted a petition to the Portuguese parliament opposing the privatization of the state run flag carrier and demanding a national referendum on the matter.
Undersigned by over 5,000, the petition followed a succession of strike actions resulting in the cancellation of over 700 flights. The petition stated the workers intent to “publicly manifest their total disagreement in relation to TAP privatization.”
This week, union representatives requested meetings with the President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho. Finance Minister, Maria Luís Albuquerque, and the Secretary of State for Transport, Sergio Monteiro, also received audience requests.
Over the current year, TAP Air Portugal reportedly lost around €25 million (about $31 million) due to stoppages. The scope of the upcoming holiday season stoppage, threatening travel chaos for thousands of passengers, will be unprecedented only comparable to a general strike staged by Tap Air Portugal in 1993.
The privatization of Portugal’s public assets is part of the of the €78 billion financial bailout signed by Portugal in 2011 with the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. TAP Air Portugal is Portugal’s national flag carrier, operating in the United States from Newark (NJ) and Miami (FL).