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Groundforce Situation Could Spell Disaster for Madeira

The deputies of the Legislative Assembly of Madeira today agreed that the situation surrounding Airport Ground Handling Company, Groundforce could spell disaster for Madeira and its economic recovery. 

The matter was raised during a plenary hearing at the Regional Parliament in Funchal, during a debate on the draft resolution on the ‘Defense of the tourist economy; the reinforcement of human resources and enhancement of Groundforce workers.’ During his presentation, PCP deputy, Ricardo Lume, stated that the workers are being ‘used as pawns in a game devised by private entities,’ noting that they are creating a ‘defective service at a crucial time of the island’s economic recovery within the tourism sector.” 

Ricardo Lume, further stressed that if ANA-Aeroporto de Portugal’s intention to withdraw the license from this company came to fruition, it would be “a disastrous situation for the entire economy of Madeira and a major setback if no measures are taken.” He defended the need for the President of the Republic and the President of Madeira to intervene to ensure that there are sufficient workers to meet the needs of the regions airports (Madeira and Porto Santo). 

Responding to this, PSD deputy, Brício Araújo argued that “TAP and the Government of the Republic are pushing Groundforce to its limit and that the State “must have the mechanisms and legal ability to overcome this process, and not be held hostage by the private sector.”

The argument became a little rowdy as the leader of the CDS, António Lopes da Fonseca, demanded that Groundforce be nationalised, and by not doing this, the mainland government was showing itself to be a paper tiger in the hands of interested parties, and now was not the time to wait for a private bank to resolve the situation. Compared to António Lopes da Fonseca’s outburst, the other parties lamentations were a little on the weak side.

Groundforce unions, whose strike last weekend caused chaos in Lisbon airport have called for further strikes on the 31st of July, and the 1st and 2nd of August.  Since the 15th of July all staff members are working to rule, and will not work overtime until after the 31st of October this year.

Groundforce is 50.1% owned by Pasogal and 49.9% by the TAP group, which, in 2020, became 72.5% owned by the Portuguese State.

Last weekend, TAP issued a statement, stating that all monies owed had been paid on time.  This came as a response to Groundforce’s accusation that TAP owed 12 million euros for services rendered. 

Samantha Gannon

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