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Background information on industrial relations in Portugal

  • 25 Sep 2009
    Portugal: Autoeuropa workers reject works council ‘pre-agreement’

    In June 2009, the majority of workers at the Portuguese Volkswagen plant Autoeuropa rejected a proposal for new solutions of labour flexibility, which had been negotiated by the company’s management and works council. At the core of the agreement is the reduction of pay for overtime on Saturdays in the context of working time accounts. As Autoeuropa is widely considered a particularly successful case of negotiated change towards greater competitiveness, the case is of major significance.

  • 22 Sep 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Steel industry – Portugal

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the steel industry in Portugal. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 18 Sep 2009
    Portugal – Greening the European economy: Responses and initiatives by Member States and social partners

    The Portuguese government’s current anti-crisis programme does not have a general approach to greening the economy, but it includes an important investment in renewable energies and energy efficiency. The Ministry of Labour is preparing an initiative designed to achieve a better coordination of governmental efforts for green employment. Unions show a more positive attitude towards green issues than employers. All social partners still lack expertise in this area, but unions have already begun to build up some capacity. Tripartite negotiations do not focus on greening the economy, yet, but the government may soon take an initiative in this direction.

  • 16 Sep 2009
    Portugal: Trade union confederations present crisis proposals

    Portugal’s two trade union confederations are highly concerned about the effects of the global economic crisis, particularly in relation to the rise in unemployment. They have presented a number of proposals to the government, demanding practical measures to protect jobs, combat dismissals and provide further social protection for unemployed people. In addition, the trade union confederations call for more measures to protect workers’ rights.

  • 15 Sep 2009
    Portugal: Flexicurity and industrial relations

    More than to look at flexicurity policies the following text addresses those typical areas, which have been the focus of the flexicurity debate. Contractual arrangements, lifelong learning, active labour market policies and social security policies, in particular unemployment protection, are examined in line with their provisions on flexibility and security. Furthermore, other issues are examined which have been relevant in the Portuguese case, such as other components of social protection, working time arrangements and functional flexibility. In relation to social partners, their views and practices and their role in macro concertation as well as in collective bargaining are highlighted and examples from collective agreements are provided which can give a picture of the dilemmas they face at the present.

  • 05 Aug 2009
    Portugal: Access to social benefit extended for unemployed people

    In May 2009, the Council of Ministers approved a decree to extend access to social benefit for unemployed people, in order to cope with the sharp rise in unemployment as a result of the current economic crisis. The social benefit for unemployed people was established to provide them with a level of income that would enable them to survive. With the new rules in place, about 15,000 additional unemployed persons will be eligible to receive social benefit.

  • 28 Jul 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Tanning and leather sector – Portugal

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the tanning and leather sector in Portugal. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 28 Jul 2009
    Portugal: Government bills to amend and enforce new Labour Code

    In May 2009, the Portuguese Council of Ministers approved four bills to amend and enforce the new Labour Code. The approved bills, which were to be submitted to the parliament, address the following issues: regulation of the Labour Code, health and safety at work, administrative infraction proceedings and revision of the Code of Labour Procedure. The social partners were asked to comment on the measures but they expressed concern over the tight deadlines for reply.

  • 21 Jul 2009
    Portugal: Construction and real estate employers set up new confederation

    Employer organisations in the construction and real estate sectors have decided to create their own confederation rather than continue as members of the Portuguese Confederation of Industry (CIP). This move follows the departure of a large construction employer organisation from CIP at the end of 2007. The new Confederation of Construction and Real Estate aims to be a new social partner, representing ‘the most important sector of the national economy’.

  • 02 Jul 2009
    Portugal: Multinational companies and collective bargaining

    MNCs’ influence on collective bargaining varies across sectors, according to the share of MNCs in the different branches of the economy. Due to legislation and extension mechanisms MNCs’ are not able to escape from existing branch agreements. The Labour Code (original 2003 and revised 2008) has created the possibility for employers’ associations to provoke the “expiry” of existing agreements. It seems that associations with a strong presence of MNCs tend to make more use of this possibility than others. Working time flexibility is at the top of the MNCs’ priority list in collective bargaining.

  • 29 Jun 2009
    Portugal: Nurses strike again for better career path and pay structure

    On 12 May 2009, International Nurses Day, the trade unions representing nurses in Portugal organised a national demonstration, demanding a fair career and better working conditions. It was the third nursing strike this year, and the fourth since the unions presented their proposal on the revision of the nursing career. At stake are government proposals on the revision of nurses’ professional statute, in line with the reform of labour relations in the public sector.

  • 30 Apr 2009
    Portugal: Teachers protest against career and assessment system

    A second national strike was held in January 2009, with strong support from the country’s teachers, against new measures introduced by the Ministry of Education. In particular, the teachers are protesting against the performance assessment of school teachers, the two-tier career system and use of performance criteria for teachers’ placement. The strike was followed by a strategy seeking to block the assessment system, the latest of which was due to be implemented from 26 February to 27 March 2009.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Portugal: Wage flexibility and collective bargaining

    Wage flexibility has been increasingly spread in Portugal although mostly through company HRM management, which is the favourite approach of employers in this matter. Some sectoral collective agreements have addressed the issue but the more important changes had been implemented through single-employer agreements at company level, both in manufacturing and retail banks. The wage drift has increased mainly in relation to top management and higher skilled positions, in connection with ‘upwards wage flexibility’. Trade unions fear that inequality increases as a consequence and they demand equal opportunities for all the employees regarding variable payments systems (VPS) as well as fair and objective criteria of performance assessment. Downwards wage flexibility is out of question from a trade union perspective, given low wages and the decline of workers purchasing power in Portugal.

  • 28 Apr 2009
    Representativeness of the European social partner organisations: Hospitals – Portugal

    The aim of this representativeness study is to identify the respective national and supranational actors (i.e. trade unions and employer organisations) in the field of industrial relations in the hospital sector in Portugal. In order to determine their relative importance in the sector’s industrial relations, this study will, in particular, focus on their representational quality as well as on their role in collective bargaining.

  • 14 Apr 2009
    Portugal: New Labour Code comes into force in wake of controversy

    On 17 February 2009, Portugal’s new Labour Code came into force, after some controversy. It was due to come into effect on 1 January; however, the Portuguese president asked the Constitutional Court to examine the rule extending the trial period for most employees to 180 days. The court claimed that this rule infringed constitutional requirements. As a result, the article concerning the rule was modified and a revised version of the code was voted on again in parliament.

  • 31 Mar 2009
    Portugal: Wage formation

    Wage formation in the private sector is largely underpinned by sectoral collective bargaining, but the state plays an important role in various respects. Monitoring by the Labour Ministry and tripartite bodies is weak. Since 2000 average real wage increases agreed upon in collective bargaining have been oscillating between –0.5% and +0.5%, but many companies pay remunerations considerably above the collectively agreed wages, as for instance in the IT sector.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Portugal: Statutory minimum wage increases by 5.6% in 2009

    Despite the initial reactions of employer organisations – citing the current global economic crisis – the Portuguese government decided to follow in 2009 the plan defined by a 2006 tripartite agreement on increasing the statutory minimum wage. The ordinance that came into force in January 2009 thus increases the statutory minimum wage by 5.6%. It takes a further step towards narrowing the gap of wage inequality, which is prevalent in Portugal.

  • 24 Mar 2009
    Portugal: Trade unions fear job losses after bank nationalisation

    The trade unions in the banking sector welcomed the measures taken by the government in November 2008 to nationalise the Portuguese Business Bank. However, they called for the protection not only of the customers’ rights but also of the workers’ rights, in particular the preservation of jobs. In January 2009, the trade unions were confronted with the possibility of the dismissal of 250 employees on fixed-term employment contracts.

  • 11 Mar 2009
    Portugal: EIRO Annual Review - 2008

    During 2008 the Socialist government continued its modernisation strategy and did not hesitate to take measures that led to open confrontation with trade unions, namely the revision of the Labour Code and the creation of a new contract regime for the public administration. By reaching agreements with the trade union confederation UGT it was possible to attenuate these conflicts. Collective bargaining made a further step in its recovery from the crisis in 2004 and pay rises in the private sector lay 0.5% above inflation. The above-average increase of the statutory minimum wage in 2008 and 2009 may have significant consequences in future bargaining.

  • 09 Mar 2009
    Portugal: The impact of the information and consultation Directive

    Implementation of the information and consultation Directive in Portugal required only minor changes to the existing legislation and seems to have had little effect on industrial relations. Furthermore, transposition took place in the context of a general, highly controversial revision of labour legislation in 2003, and information and consultation issues thus received very little attention

  • 23 Feb 2009
    Portugal: Trade unions reject 2.9% pay increase in public sector

    In December 2008, the wage bargaining round in the public sector came to an end without any agreement being reached between the government and trade unions. The government approved a 2.9% pay rise to be applied from 1 January 2009, on the basis that this improves employees’ situation at a time of low inflation. However, the trade unions consider that the wage increase is not sufficient to compensate for the decline in purchasing power of public sector employees.

  • 06 Feb 2009
    Portugal: Collective bargaining and continuous vocational training in Europe

    In the context of the general inertia in collective bargaining, social dialogue and collective bargaining are not a central factor in the CVT system. Tri-partite negotiations at interprofessional- and sector-level, on the other hand, has succeeded in creating a common understanding of government and social partners with regard to VET/CVT and in formulating a consensus on central elements of the political strategy in this area. Another important factor is the labour legislation (2003) that introduced new mechanisms for the advancement of CVT. Confronted with the inertia in collective bargaining, trade unions have launched a campaign at company level to make legal rights to CVT effective.

Page last updated: 05 September, 2014