TAP-Air Portugal pilots react against loss of compensation

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Workers at TAP-Air Portugal issued a general notice to strike on 24-25 April 1997 in protest at revised flight and rest-time schedules

The Union of Civil Aviation Pilots (Sindicato dos Pilotos da Aviação Civil), representing employees at TAP-Air Portugal, issued a general notice to strike on 24 and 25 April 1997. This was the culmination of a dispute that had been worsening since February. The problem is essentially related to the definition of rules for flight and rest-time schedules, which are currently contained in a government directive. However, the union wants to negotiate them in order to prevent possible unilateral changes damaging to the workers' interests, especially since the intervention of the European Union is expected to allow greater flexibility in this matter.

TAP-Air Portugal has been in a very difficult situation and over the last few years, the Government has been compelled to intervene financially with the consent of the European Commission. For TAP management, the financial losses corresponding to the strike period will be enough to neutralise the company's current profits. On the other hand, TAP management states that the working time rules in force are too rigid and that working time compensation is substantially better than in other European air companies. According to management, the strike will cause many difficulties for the shortly to be announced TAP privatisation programme.

The Pilots' Trade Union expressed its disagreement over changes to the current system of rules, and also demanded more flight crews for certain fleets in order to avoid overtime.

Meanwhile, the dispute extended to the conduct of the strike process itself. TAP management maintains that the legal notice period for the strike was not respected. Therefore, about a week before the strike began, it lodged an appeal with the General Labour Administration raising the issue of the strike notice.

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