TAP to pay vacation allowance to Groundforce workers

  • Lusa e ECO News
  • 9 July 2021

Groundforce's workers' unions announced this Friday that an agreement has been reached with TAP to pay vacation allowances to the handling company's employees.

Transport Workers Union of Portugal (STTAMP) and the Airport Maintenance and Aviation Workers Union (STAMA) reach an agreement with TAP for the payment of vacation allowance at Groundforce and remove the strike notice.

According to a joint statement sent by the two unions, “it was possible to reach an understanding with the government/TAP and a commitment was made to pay the vacation allowance to Groundforce workers”. Thus, the unions decided to lift the pre-strike notices that had been given and which were effective as of next week.”

“These unions welcome and are thankful for the government’s willingness, which, through TAP, as a minority shareholder of Groundforce, assumes a leading role, which, with this resolution promotes part of the solution to the problems of workers, at this difficult time which has existed since February,” reads the note sent by representatives of workers of the airport assistance company (handling).

The unions also added that they hope “that the majority shareholder considers the proposals for the company’s acquisition,” as they believe that “the situation in its current form makes the future of the company unviable.”

STTAMP and STAMA have called a strike at Groundforce between July 16 and 18, in addition to other partial strikes. In a statement sent at the time, the organizations said they had issued the “prior notice of strike, with coverage in all Portuguese airports,” and it was planned from “July 12, 2021, partial strike to the first and last hour of each schedule within the work shift, for an indefinite period.”

In addition, from the same day, the workers intended to strike “all forms of overtime work or work on public holidays, for an indefinite period of time.”

On the same note, the STTAMP and STAMA justified the strike “considering the non-compliance with the Company Agreement, by the lack of payment to workers of various pecuniary matters provided for in the Law and in that Company Agreement, namely: vacation allowances, accrued annuities, updating of remuneration positions regarding the evolution in professional careers and the payment of the profit distribution premium regarding the year 2019”, adding that “after more than a year and a half, after the beginning of the pandemic crisis caused by Covid-19, SPdH [Groundforce] has already lost about 1. 1. 000 workers who have not seen their contracts renewed.”

In addition, the workers lamented that “since February 2021″, they live “in a state of anxiety, not knowing if their salaries will be paid, with a delay of more than 15 days in February, in May and in June, they were paid in instalments, and also the non-payment of sums related to supplementary work actually done, as well as payment for work done on a public holiday”.

Groundforce provides ground handling services for passengers and luggage at Portuguese airports. On May 10, TAP filed for Groundforce’s insolvency as a “creditor” “with the Lisbon Commercial Court of the Judicial Court of the District of Lisbon”, justifying that the purpose of the action is, “if feasible”, to safeguard “the viability and sustainability of the company, ensuring its operational activity in Portuguese airports.”

The handling company considered that an insolvency process not only “does not leave everything the same”, but also leaves Groundforce in a situation of “total strangulation”, has therefore written to the Minister of Infrastructures and Housing, Pedro Nuno Santos, in order to make him aware “that this decision will greatly contribute to the worsening of the company’s situation”. Groundforce is owned 50.1% by Pasogal and 49.9% by the TAP group, which, in 2020, became 72.5% owned by the Portuguese state.