Portugal: Pilots’ union rejects TAP’s threats, supports protests
Portugal’s Civil Aviation Pilots’ Union (SPAC) has rejected the “threatening attitude” of TAP management regarding Friday’s demonstration in Lisbon and expressed support for the “legitimate struggles” of the company’s workers.
In a statement released on Saturday, SPAC recalled that it was not present at the sit-in held outside the airline’s premises in Lisbon during the day to demand the resignation of the management.
However, it “repudiates the attempt at coercion and harassment” that it says constituted the reaction of the TAP executive committee to the sit-in, made in a statement at the end of the day.
In that reaction, the company said that demonstration by workers was “a disciplinary offence” that “should never be repeated”.
“The right to freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate are part of TAP’s culture, but they should be exercised in accordance with the law and without jeopardising the freedom of others,” said the board of TAP Air Portugal in a statement, to which Lusa had access on Friday.
According to the board, this was “an uncontrolled, unsolicited and unauthorised gathering of workers”.
Over 100 TAP workers gathered at the entrance to the airline’s premises in a silent demonstration called by SMS.
In the message transmitted between workers, to which Lusa had access, the airline workers were called to demonstrate “peacefully and silently” at lunchtime.
The SPAC said, “demonstrations are a consecrated right and cannot be prevented”, and recalled that in the recent past, TAP “prohibited the union from holding plenaries” and “tried unsuccessfully to prevent pilots after a historic demonstration from gathering in silence in front of Building 25, where it has its offices”.
“After the successive confusions and controversies perpetrated by this administration, it insists on the lack of sensitivity to manage the enormous dissatisfaction that reigns among the workers,” the union added.
For SPAC, the TAP administration should “be concerned with improving the management” of the company and “not continue to crush the working conditions of employees, and at the same time improve and benefit others who, in as yet unclear circumstances, are leaving the company with compensation payments”.
SPAC also said that it had maintained the path of dialogue with the TAP board of directors but “reserves the right to use whatever measures it sees fit to make this administration and those in charge see that workers’ rights and their working conditions are inalienable”.
TAP has been the subject of several media headlines, including the controversial compensation of €500,000 paid to former treasury secretary Alexandra Reis, which led to resignations within the government.
The airline is undergoing a restructuring plan that includes salary cuts for workers and which led to a crew strike in December, with another already scheduled for the end of this month.