In Portugal, whenever a strike poses a threat to the essential interests of the community, i.e . because of non-compliance with the obligations imposed by Article 8 of the Strike Act (see strike (essential services) ), the Government possesses powers to decree the civil conscription of the strikers under Decree-Law No. 637 of November 20, 1974. The particular case of strikers involves the conscription of services or persons. For persons, the decree must state the legal rules to which those conscripted are to be subject, which are usually the rules governing public employment (in the most serious instances the special regulations governing military service may be applied). Employees who are conscripted are entitled to receive the pay inherent in their contract of employment. Refusal to comply with a conscription order is punishable, usually incurring sanctions laid down in the disciplinary code for the public service.
Civil conscription is not in itself a sanction: it is not a measure taken to punish strikers, but merely to ensure that the needs of the community can be met. Consequently, the decision to resort to it will always be based on an appraisal of the future situation, i.e . the likely impact on public interests of a continuation of the strike, not the damage to those interests already caused by the stoppage. Civil conscription has given rise to a number of court cases, mainly in situations where employees have contested the legality of imposing sanctions for failure to obey the conscription order.