Dockers’ unionists in Portugal will be voicing their opposition to a new national port law at a demonstration in Lisbon this week.
The activists will be staging their protest outside the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon on 29 November, where a vote will be taking place on the law. They are furious that the government has failed to consult unions over the proposed legislation, which was announced in August. The plans respond to pressure from the Troika tripartite committee (led by the European Commission with the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund) and could liberalise port labour, deregulate dockers’ work and lead to casualisation.
The unions are calling for international solidarity to highlight the issue; Eduardo Chagas, general secretary of the ITF’s European arm the European Transport Workers’ Federation and delegations from Belgian unions ACV Transcom and Belgische Transportarbeidersbond as well as from the Finnish Transport Workers’ Union and Denmark's 3F union will also be at the protest.
Port unions in Portugal, which have formed a “common front” to deal with the proposals, have been holding strikes and other actions since August following the government’s refusal to enter into meaningful consultations over the text. They are concerned that the new law could redefine dockers’ work if casualisation goes ahead. The ITF- and ETF-affiliated Oficiaismar, part of the front, wants discussions with the government to be established; it has reported that all the authorities have done so far is attempt to divide the union movement.
Once the vote has taken place, the matter will be passed to a special committee; it will eventually go to the vote at the plenary.