The Federation of Portuguese Agro-Food Industries (FIPA) has warned of the “serious situation” that the strike by workers in port administrations is causing to agri-food companies and calls for the parties to quickly reach a solution. At the same time, the Associação Empresarial de Portugal (AEP) sent a letter to the Government, warning of the consequences that the strike by port administration officials is already having on companies.
“If it continues, the strike by port administration workers jeopardises the normal functioning of the agri-food industry, a sector for which the ports of the [Portuguese] Continent, Madeira and Azores are the gateway for raw materials into the country” , says FIPA in a statement.
In addition, the stoppage "compromises the export of goods" and the "meeting of delivery deadlines" for orders, a situation that jeopardizes "future relations with the outside world".
FIPA, however, recognizes that the “strike is a fundamental right of workers”, but warns of the fact that it is already “affecting the supply and consumption of essential goods”, as well as bringing “incalculable and lasting damage” to companies and their workers. And he continues: “The risk of disruption in the supply of some raw materials for food is already a reality”.
Thus, and in view of the situation, and in case an immediate solution is not found for this labour dispute, FIPA understands that "the minimum services must be reviewed and ensured immediately", since they currently "do not include the unloading of raw materials of essential food items”.
The AEP is also concerned about the consequences of this
national strike. The association joined the Port Community of Leixões,
Commercial Association of Porto, Association of Shipping Agents of Portugal,
National Association of Port Terminal Concessionaires, Association of
Forwarders of Portugal, and Association of Port Operators of Leixões to alert
the Government to the damage being done to businesses and the economy.
In a letter sent to the Government, the seven entities, which manifest themselves as workers, operators, and customers of the Port of Leixões, show great concern for the blockade that the import and export of goods are causing.
Users of national ports with greater capacity are already diverting cargo to Spain and other international ports, but most economic operators do not have that possibility and are currently paralysed. The situation is particularly serious in the Port of Leixões, since its physical characteristics dictate its total closure, without it being possible for ships to enter or leave.
“Port Administrations are profitable public companies. Every year they distribute dividends to the State. However, port dues are not ordinary income. The sector law says, very specifically, that they serve to improve the port service, even though no relevant investments have been made in the sector”, reads a statement.
“It is the duty, obligation, and responsibility of the Government to correct the application of these fees and the proper functioning of the ports”, adds the AED.
The National Union of Port Administration Workers (SNTAP) called a multi-day strike, which began on December 22 and runs until January 30, covering ports on the mainland, Madeira, and the Azores. According to the document sent to the Government, regional secretariats, and port administrations, workers will be on strike "from 00:00 on December 22nd until 24:00 on December 23rd", "from 00:00 on December 27th until 24:00 of the 29th" and "of the 00:00 to 24:00 on the 2nd, 6th, 9th, 13th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, 27th and 30th of January”.
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