On Monday August 1st, the National Union of Civil Aviation Workers (SINTAC) and the Union of Commercial Aviation Staff (SQAC) gave a strike notice in all national airports managed by Airports of Portugal (ANA), which is expected to take place between August 19 and 21. The workers demand the lifting of the suspension of contributions to the pension fund imposed by Vinci, the group that owns ANA, as well as salary increases and the hiring of more staff.
“After listening to the workers’ demands, SINTAC and SQAC launched a notice of strike that will cover all workers of all ANA airports, under concession from the Vinci Airports group, and will be effective from 00h00 on the 19th of August until 24h00 on the 21st of August,” the statement reads.
In November of 2021, ANA’s executive committee decided to suspend, until November 2024, the company’s contributions to the pension fund of its workers, a measure it justified with the crisis in the aviation sector, motivated by the pandemic. Before that, ANA had already complained about the company agreement that was in effect until then, with the objective of negotiating a new agreement and “adopting a set of cost rationalization measures”, invoking, also here, the crisis affecting the aviation sector.
The unions have pointed out that it was only in 2020 that the manager of the national airports reported losses (which amounted to nearly 80 million euros), a scenario that has since been reversed. In 2021, ANA reached profits of 25.5 million euros and, in the first half of this year, Vinci (the French group that owns ANA) reported profits of 1.9 billion euros.
In addition to the reinstatement of “all contributions to the Pension Fund of its employees” and a wage increase that takes into account performance and inflation. The workers’ representatives also demand that the company keeps the agreement established in 2015, with the respective improvements, and the implementation of urgent measures to hire more staff and restore the minimum necessary to safeguard airport safety and security at work. In the opinion of the two unions, there is an “inhumane” overload on existing staff.
“Faced with the inflexibility of the proposals presented by ANA/Vinci over the last year and the attempt to reduce rights enshrined in the company agreement, attacking the rights that workers have achieved over decades, SINTAC and SQAC consider it urgent to end this blind policy and put an end to all this instability,” concludes the joint statement from the unions.
In a second statement released on Monday August 1st, SINTAC and SQAC clarify in more detail some of the claims made, namely with regard to contributions to the pension fund and the 2015 company agreement. And they accuse ANA of adopting a “persecutory and provocative attitude”.
The unions have stressed that the company intends to “end the wage scale, end career progression, end the remuneration of specialists, end availability for rescue and maintenance and stop increasing the salaries of managers in their basic remuneration”.
They claim that the 1% salary increase implemented in April, plus another 0.5% to be paid as of December, retroactive to June, is “below” the proposal presented by the unions and represents “a clear attitude of confrontation, without any concern for the workers and the loss of their purchasing power”.
In Spain, air traffic controllers warned in early July that they were likely to call a strike if the state-owned air navigation company Enaire did not hire more staff for the peak summer season.