Truck Drivers, Trade Unions and the Impending Strikes in Portugal

After weeks and months of negotiations, Portugal is preparing for disruption as transport trucks are scheduled to begin their strike on August 12. The full magnitude of the strike has not been defined, but the nation is preparing all industries for material shortages and shipment delays. Truck drivers are some of Portugal’s most underpaid and overworked employees and face dangerous and harmful situations as they transport hazardous materials across the country daily.

Although the strikes could be devastating for the country, economy and citizens as a whole, at this point in the conversations with the unions, the drivers’ union can see no other option but to take action in order to force an end to the ongoing negotiations. The negotiations have revolved around a base salary increase of €100 over the three years.

The truck drivers’ union 22 years old, and this is the first time a strike has been called. With the three-day gasoline strike having taken place in April and having effectively crippled the country for a few days, authorities are very worries about the immediate impact of this impending action.

Portugal’s economy primarily relies on industries such as fishing, clothing & footwear, tourism, textiles and construction. All of these industries are dependent, in one way or another, on the delivery and shipment of materials, as well as on truck drivers for the exporting of goods manufactured in Portugal. If the truck drivers go on an extended strike, it is likely to have a severe negative impact across the entire country and many industries. With the country already reeling from the effects of the recent economic crisis, increased stress on the nation is bound to be paralyzing for a number of industries and companies.

Portugal is also suffering from high unemployment rates (12.4% as of 2016), the 18-25 year old age bracket particularly suffering from a jobless rate of 30%. There is a shortage of skilled workers for positions requiring advanced degrees or post-secondary school education. With the majority of the country employed in industries that rely on the continued work of truck drivers, everyone is hoping for a mutually satisfactory conclusion to negotiations before August 12th and that the threat of a strike is enough to finalize negotiations without putting the fate of the nation’s economy in jeopardy.

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