2 – Repeated violations of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Portugal

In practice

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Vista Alegre Atlantis prevents trade union meeting inside the premises30-11-2021

The Vista Alegre Altlantis company, in Leiria, prevented two leaders of the Glass Trade Union from entering their premises to meet with the trade union committee at the factory, in November 2021. The union complained that this prevented them carrying out normal trade union activities.
In response to the company’s concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the union assured them that all health and safety precautions would be taken. The company still refused to allow the meeting to take place on its premises.

Union leaders refused entry to cork factory12-11-2021

On 12 November 2021, management at Amorim Florestal refused entry to leaders of the Union of Trade Unions of the North Alentejo (USNA) and of the Trade Union of Workers in the Ceramics, Cement and Similar, Construction, Wood, Marble and Cork Industries in the South and Autonomous Regions (STCCMCS), who were due to meet workers at its Salteiros Unit in Ponte de Sôr.
The STCCMCS had informed the company of its meeting and its purpose, which was to make contact with the workers during their break, inside Amorim’s premises, without disrupting normal work.
After being refused entry, the union called in the National Republican Guard (GNR) to explain they had the right to be there. In response, management told the union leaders they could hold their meeting but would have to remain at the gate.
Doing so would make an information meeting difficult. The aim was to inform workers both about the organisation of a national demonstration to be held on Saturday 20 November and about the demands contained in the collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
process underway throughout the cork sector.
Amorim Florestal had consistently obstructed the negotiation of salaries, holidays, working hours and holiday pay. It was now adding to this by threatening to deduct leave for workers who took part in union plenary sessions. The unions believed the aim was to prevent workers understanding the reasons why their salaries were not being increased and the role of the company in blocking negotiations.

Union representatives denied entry at Accenture29-10-2021

Management at Accenture Miraflores refused to allow entry to trade union leaders from outside the company, and according to the Commerce, Offices and Services Workers’ Union of Portugal (CESP), decided unilaterally on the composition of its delegations for meetings with management.
On 29 October 2021, CESP organised a protest to demand the right to have the workers’ elected representatives meet with the company without restrictions, to defend their rights and to put forward their demands.

Anti-union harassment30-09-2021

The leader of the Commerce, Offices and Services Workers’ Union of Portugal (CESP) suffered daily pressure and harassment at work after refusing to “negotiate” her dismissal by the Association for the Social Support Service to the Pensioners of EPAL (AREPAL). Management changed her professional category, and from September 2021 she was forbidden to enter the facilities, to contact her colleagues and to carry out her functions.
CESP said her treatment was unacceptable and noted that there had been repeated instances of failing to respect trade union rights and workers’ rights, which it had already filed complaints about. The union was preparing to hold protest action outside AREPAL on 13 October.

Hotel union leader arrested for distributing information to workers23-08-2021

On the morning of 23 August 2021, a leader of the Algarve Hotel Industry Union, accompanied by two union delegates, was arrested while distributing union information to the workers of the Hapimag Resort Albufeira. Hotel management called in the National Republican Guard (GNR) to prevent the union leader from carrying out his trade union activity inside the establishment, a right foreseen in the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, in the labour code and in the collective agreement for the tourism sector.
The union leader tried to explain to the GNR officers that they were exercising a right consecrated in the country’s Fundamental Law. The GNR officers complied with the employer’s request, however, and detained the union leader, taking him to the Albufeira police station. The leader was charged and summoned to appear before the Albufeira Court.
The Algarve Hotel Industry Union and the Algarve Hotel Workers’ Union both publicly supported the worker concerned. His union, Sindicato dos Trabalhadores da Indústria de Hotelaria, Turismo, Restaurantes e Similares do Algarve (Hotel, Tourism, Restaurant and Allied Workers of the Algarve), recalled that the management of Hapimag Resort Albufeira had recently suspended the union delegates from their duties as head and deputy head of kitchen for demanding the improvement of working conditions.
The workers’ main grievances included poor working conditions and the violation of health and safety standards, issues that they had been trying to solve through negotiation for two years.

Food company responds to strike with collective dismissal19-07-2021

When workers at the Upfield food company announced a series of two-hour strikes, the company responded with a collective dismissal.
The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
was called when Upfield ignored the workers’ demands for a €30 increase in their monthly pay and respect for their rights. The strikes began on 5 July 2021.
In the days following the publication of the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
notice, the company announced its intention to make 19 workers redundant, including a member of the workers’ committee and the three workplace health and safety representatives.
The workers held a meeting and scheduled an action in defence of their rights for the 15 July. On 19 July they scheduled a 24-hour strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to protest against the collective dismissal and press for pay rises and the upgrading of careers as well as for the respect of workers’ rights.
Upfield’s relations with workers’ representatives had steadily deteriorated since the company was taken over from Unilever-Jerónimo Martins by a North American financial group (KKR), three years earlier.

Football league disrupts meeting to stop collective bargaining02-07-2021

On 2 July 2021, a conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
meeting hosted by the Ministry of Labour between football clubs, autonomous sports corporations (ASDs) and the unions representing their workers was disrupted by a representative of the Portuguese Professional Football League. His aim was to prevent collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.
The league had consistently refused since 2010 to negotiate a collective agreement for football club employees, claiming not to represent them. The league also refused to negotiate collective agreements for the workers of the ASDs, opposing all the unions’ proposals and the offer of mediation mediation A process halfway between conciliation and arbitration, in mediation a neutral third party assists the disputing parties in reaching a settlement to an industrial dispute by suggesting possible, non-binding solutions.

See arbitration, conciliation
by the Ministry of Labour.
As a result, the salaries of employees of football clubs, ASDs and the league itself have not been revised since 2010, except for the players and coaches, who have their own collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreement.
Faced with this consistent obstruction by the league, the hotel and tourism union, Federação dos Sindicatos de agricultura alimentação bebidas hotelaria e turismo de Portugal (FESAHT), and the commercial and services union, Federação Portuguesa dos Sindicatos do Comércio e Serviços (FEPCES), presented a proposal individually to the clubs and ASDs with a view to concluding a collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
agreement in accordance with the norms of the labour code. The clubs and ASDs did not attend the meeting they were invited to, so the union federations then requested conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
at the Ministry of Labour.
It was the second conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
meeting, held by videoconference, that the league’s legal representative decided to attend, uninvited. The union federations said they would not object to his participation in the meeting if he wished to act as the representative of the ASDs or clubs, with a view to negotiation, but he refused.
The meeting ended after the Ministry of Labour invited the league representative to withdraw from the meeting.

Slow recovery of collective bargaining in Portugal may be boosted by positive legal developments27-01-2020

Despite economic recovery and growth, the UGT indicates that employers still adopted a very rigid stance when it comes to wage increase negotiations and that there are reports of employers unwilling to negotiate important issues such as work-life balance and complementary social benefits.

The number of workers covered by new or revised agreements keeps on increasing thanks to the repeal of restrictive criteria for the issuance of extension mechanisms but is still below the pre-crisis numbers. In the public sector, there are still constraints to negotiate on issues with budgetary impact (careers, wages and other cash benefits).

In 2019, a new Law No. 93/2019 was approved in Parliament with a view to give legal force to measures agreed upon as part of a tripartite agreement adopted in the national social concertation body in June 2018.

This important draft law consecrated changes to the Portuguese Labour Code and to social security legislation with the main objectives of fighting precarious work and giving a new dynamics to collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
in order to counter the trend that was imposed during the Portuguese adjustment program of undermining sector-level collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
and reinforcing the employers’ power to conclude individual agreements.

Another piece of legislation (Law No. 49/2019) also came into force, introducing changes to the law regulating trade union rights of the National Police Force (PSP), introducing namely new criteria regarding time credits of union leaders and representativeness criteria for exercising the right to collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
.

Tanker drivers defy threat of arrest26-08-2019

Just five months after the latest workers’ strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
in the fuel-tanker industry, the National Union of Dangerous Goods Drivers (SNMMP) called for a new walkout from 7 to 22 September 2019 to protest the standstill in government-mediated talks over higher wages and better working conditions.

According to Anacleto Rodrigues, spokesperson for Independent Freight Drivers’ Union (SIMM), fuel-tanker drivers are subject to dangerous and precarious conditions, including fifteen hour-long shifts, a base salary of €600 and the fact that overtime payments do not compute as social security contributions – something unions are fighting to change. Francisco São Bento, president of the SNMMP, shed light on the fact “that companies are built on top of these workers’ overtime work”. São Bento claimed that many drivers had already worked up to 500 hours of overtime in this year alone.

In response, the Portuguese government imposed fuel rationing at petrol stations to prevent a nationwide paralysis and ordered fuel-tanker drivers to go back to work in different parts of the country where minimum services had not been met. The order meant that drivers who refused to comply could face criminal charges, including up to two years of imprisonment.

Environment Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes said that fourteen drivers were being accused of carrying out a crime of disobedience, while some drivers had been threatened with dismissal if they did not respect the decree. “The government has no alternative but to resort to this civil order,” he said.

Strikers reacted angrily after proceedings began against the fourteen drivers. Pedro Pardal Henriques, vice president of the SNMMP, said this order was “an attack on the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
, because these people (the drivers) delivered minimum services. No one will respect the minimum service minimum service The operations needed in a public or private establishment during a strike, normally to avoid compromising the life or basic needs of the population or causing irreversible damages.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
or civil requisition requisition To issue back-to-work orders. ”.

Collective bargaining still constrained despite economic recovery01-12-2018

Despite economic recovery and economic growth, there is still a very rigid stance when it comes to wage increase negotiations, and according to UGT, there are reports of employers still unwilling to negotiate important issues like the conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
of working time with personal and family time and complementary social benefits.
The UGT reports that in the public sector, even if commitments were assumed by the government with trade unions in order to discuss some priority issues (a positive evolution from previous years deriving from the change of government in late 2015), there are still constraints to negotiate all issues with budgetary impact (especially wages).
In the private sector, many trade unions complain about the stance taken by employers refusing to negotiate certain issues like wage increases, working time (e.g., overtime), social benefits, harassment, performance evaluations and professional classification.

Ryanair’s workers on strike threatened25-07-2018

In July, the airline company Ryanair told striking cabin crew in Portugal that their actions could adversely affect their promotion prospects. A Ryanair operations manager also wrote to the staff in Portugal that those who had taken action had perpetrated an “unauthorised absence”, for which they would not receive basic pay, allowances, sector pay, nor a monthly productivity bonus for the day in question. This happened on the first day of a two-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
of Ryanair’s cabin crew in four countries (Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium) from 25 to 26 July to improve their working conditions.

Interference of employers in trade union activities01-03-2018

In 2017 the União Geral dos Trabalhadores – Portugal (UGT-P) noted cases of discrimination against trade union representatives at plant level with threats of transfer and abusive control of time credit, as well as cases where the employer refused permission to union members to contact workers. Complaints regarding difficulties to access company premises or to meet with the management have become frequent in the private sector and, more recently, in the education sector.
While Portuguese legislation establishes the obligation for employers to provide adequate facilities to unions to carry out their activities, in many cases such facilities are not provided and in some sectors, e.g., hospitals, this failure to comply with the law has become the rule.

Lack of collective bargaining despite the economic recovery01-03-2018

According to the União Geral dos Trabalhadores – Portugal (UGT-P), the employers’ refusal to negotiate on working conditions is still a common issue in Portugal. Despite the economic recovery, employers still adopt a very rigid stance with regard to wage increase negotiations, and in some instances, important issues like the conciliation conciliation An attempt by a neutral third party, a conciliator, to aid the settling of an industrial dispute by improving communications, offering advice and interpreting issues to bring the disputing parties to a point where they can reconcile their differences. The conciliator does not take as active a role as a mediator or an arbitrator.

See arbitration, mediation
of working time with personal and family time and complementary social benefits.
During the financial and economic crisis, a number of topics were “off-limits” in the public sector and State-owned enterprises, due to budgetary constraints (e.g., wages, overtime, career advancement). However, since the economic upturn, these subjects have not been renegotiated. Careers have been blocked for years, and wage cuts for civil servants only ended in 2016. Thanks to the re-opening of dialogue between the government and national trade unions in January 2018, career advancement is partially unblocked and there is currently a negotiation protocol to continue discussing these issues throughout the year.

Widespread precarious work still impacts trade union affiliation01-03-2018

The União Geral dos Trabalhadores – Portugal (UGT-P) reports on a common practice among workers not to inform their employer of their union membership to avoid discrimination in career advancement and performance bonus. The high level of precarious work in Portugal (the third highest in the EU) continues to be an obstacle to trade union affiliation and participation.

Teachers’ trade union makes a complaint against the Regional Government of Azores04-03-2016

It was on 4 March 2016, during the Delegates Assembly, that the Democratic Trade Union of Azores Professors (Sindicato Democrático dos Professores dos Açores-SDPA) decided to present a complaint to a mediator against art. 42 of Regional Legislative Decree N.1/2016/A of 8 January 2016. Such a decree provided a unilateral reduction in the due salaries of teachers and professors with short-term contracts. The Azores Regional Secretariat for Education and Culture – being the other party to the labour contract – decided to arbitrarily worsen the terms of contract illegitimately excluding workers’ representatives.

Transport company refuses to bargain09-09-2015

Lisbon Transportation Enterprise refused to negotiate a new collective agreement with the transport workers, the Federação dos Sindicatos de Transportes e Comunicações, FECTRANS. At the same time, managers’ salaries were increased dramatically. In response, workers went on a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
on 14 and 15 September 2015 throughout the metro, tram and ferry system in Lisbon and surrounding cities.

New regulations06-02-2013

The adjustment program promulgated by the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund led to end of automatic extension of sectoral collective agreements. Now an agreement can only be extended if the negotiating union represents at least 50 per cent of workers in the bargaining unit bargaining unit A group of workers within a particular company, establishment, industry or occupation that constitutes an appropriate unit for the purpose of collective bargaining.

See bargaining agent
. This has led to a shift to enterprise level bargaining by work councils instead of union representatives. Collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
coverage has shrunk.

Moreover, the Uniâo Geral de Trabalhadores (UGT-P) and its affiliate Sindicato dos Bancários do Sul e Ilhas (SBSI) denounced the adoption of Decree-Law 19/2013 issued on 6 February 2013 without prior consultation with the social partners social partners Unions and employers or their representative organisations. . The regulation has been imposed on workers in the banking sector suspending collective agreement that were in force. The SBSI has filed a complaint with the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.

See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
Committee on Freedom of Association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
in this regard.

The REFER (Rede Ferroviária Nacional, EP) issued minimum service minimum service The operations needed in a public or private establishment during a strike, normally to avoid compromising the life or basic needs of the population or causing irreversible damages.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
requirement to the SINAFE (Sindicato Nacional Ferroviários do Movimento e Afins) only the day before the general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
of 27 June 2013 in order to undermine the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action. Workers who are members of the Sindicato dos Técnicos, Administrativos e Auxiliares de Educação (STAAE) have been threatened that their union membership would impact their performance evaluation and thus promotions negatively.

In addition, the UGT believes that Airports of Portugal, SA (ANA) acted in bad faith when it negotiated minimum services during the general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
of 27 June 2013. Management refused to allow SINDAV members to participate in the minimum service minimum service The operations needed in a public or private establishment during a strike, normally to avoid compromising the life or basic needs of the population or causing irreversible damages.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
.

The impact of the debt crisis on trade unions31-12-2011

A Tripartite Agreement was reached in March 2011 concerning growth and employment measures and the revision of some aspects of the labour code in relation to compensation in the case of redundancies and dismissals, as well as to collective agreements and lay off procedures. However, these labour law changes have not been implemented yet and further reforms of the labour code are foreseen for 2012 as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding. A new social dialogue social dialogue Discussion and co-operation between the social partners on matters of common interest, such as economic and social policy. Involves participation by the state where tripartism is practice. process was initiated envisaging a broad scope tripartite agreement (on growth, competiveness and employment), in which the revision of the labour code was also up for discussion. This was a lengthy consultation process which was interrupted after the government made its announcement about increased working hours. Negotiations were resumed after the November general strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
and a new comprehensive tripartite agreement on the subjects of Growth, Competitiveness and Employment was due to be signed in January 2012. The agreement also included a revision of the Labour Code. The UGT reported that it was the only trade union confederation with seat in the Permanent Commission for Social Partnership to sign the Agreement and did so in order to avoid the introduction of more punitive measures for workers, which are envisaged in the Troika Memorandum.

The crisis had a strong impact on collective bargaining collective bargaining The process of negotiating mutually acceptable terms and conditions of employment as well as regulating industrial relations between one or more workers’ representatives, trade unions, or trade union centres on the one hand and an employer, a group of employers or one or more employers’ organisations on the other.

See collective bargaining agreement
. The number of signed collective agreements decreased from 230 in2010 to 170 in 2011, and fewer workers (less than 170,000) were covered by the agreements.

Atypical employment is hampering organising30-11-2009

Portugal, together with Spain and Poland, has the highest levels of precarious employment in the EU, especially among young workers. Trade unions see this as one of the reasons why organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. and union activities are becoming increasingly difficult.

Anti-union climate30-11-2009

According to the trade union confederation UGT-P, labour and management relations at the company level are tainted by severe pressure on workers not to join a union, considerable interference in trade union activities, and fierce opposition to external trade union representatives.

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