Monday, July 27, 2009

Portuguese Transportation Union Leader: Main challenges

Privatization Struggle Highlights Union Focus

by Mike Tolochko

Amavel Alves is the co-ordinator of National Federation of Transport and Communication Unions [FECTRANS.] He comes from the subway Metro workers union where he was a train operator/an engineer.

He said that main goal of the labor federation over the past few years was to better focus its work under one umbrella: Industrially and Geographically. He said that FECTRANS is the largest federation of its kind; there is another one, which is far smaller. It is affiliated with the CGTP the National Federation in Portugal.

International Solidarity

While FECTRANS is not officially affiliated with any of the two international federations it works strongly on international labor solidarity. He said that FECTRANS believes in class-oriented trade unionism, "Without a Shadow of a Doubt." He said that the union works with the Trade Union International - TUI associated with the World Federation of Trade Unions.

Three Main Challenges

Alves said that there are three main challenges before the union:

A. Fighting Against the Wage of Privatization. We are struggling to keep our work in the public domain. He said that the current financial and economic crisis caught the privateers "red-handed." "They are a bit more cautious these days." He said that unemployment in Portugal is at it's highest since the end of the dictatorship: 1974.

B. Fighting Against Recent Labor Codes. The labor movement is struggling against the anti-union direction of the European Union and also the current Portuguese government.

C. Struggling to Maintain and Improve Working Conditions. The struggle against increasing working hours is crucial, he reported. Also, casual labor is causing troubles. Truck/lorry drivers are facing increasing driving hours.

More to come; stay tuned