Workers down tools at Portugal's VW plant 'the first strike for 27 years'

vwlogosWorkers at the VW Autoeuropa plant mounted their first strike in 27 years which ended today at noon.

The strike was called over management’s demands that workers should put in a shift on Saturday for no significantly enhanced pay despite management claims that on offer was a salary increase of 16% along with a bonus of €175 per a month and an extra day's holiday per month.

"This strike was important because it allowed us to improve our position. I think that the management finally will understand our reasons and will come up with a more balanced proposal regarding working on Saturdays," said one striking worker who had joined 41% of his colleagues in an effort to halt production at the factory in Palmela, Setúbal.

A reported 75% of workers had backed strike action.

During the 24-hour strike, "Autoeuropa did not produce a single car," claimed Eduardo Florindo of union Sitesul. Management, workers and trade union officials each say they are determined that an agreement on new working hours still is possible.

Autoeuropa's management promises to hear the unions as early as 17 September, but it now will wait for the election of the new Workers' Commission representative scheduled for October 3rd as the last one resigned in huff.

Former Finance Minister, Maria Luís Albuquerque, said the strike was "an historic day in Portuguese industry, unfortunately for the worst reasons" since "for the first time in 26 years, since the VW factory set up in Portugal, a strike is has been held."

The political significance of this strike is, in the opinion of the social-democratic leader, is "alarming, even if it is not surprising."

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