Last Updated: Friday, 15 December 2017, 12:06 GMT

2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Portugal

Publisher International Trade Union Confederation
Publication Date 9 June 2010
Cite as International Trade Union Confederation, 2010 Annual Survey of violations of trade union rights - Portugal, 9 June 2010, available at: [accessed 15 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Population: 10,700,000
Capital: Lisbon
ILO Core Conventions Ratified: 29 – 87 – 98 – 100 – 105 – 111 – 138 – 182

Anti-union behaviour remains common in private companies. Precarious jobs are making organising more difficult. The right to collective bargaining is limited in the public service.

Trade union rights in law

Freedom of association is guaranteed in the Constitution and the 2009 Labour Code. There are no predetermined and precise criteria to evaluate the representativity of unions, but it is considered that only unions having a seat in the Permanent Commission for Social Partnership are representative. These unions are also referred to by name in law, which serves as an impediment to new trade unions.

Although the right to collective bargaining is secured, bargaining in the public service is defined as "appraisal and discussion". Negotiations do not result in legally binding collective agreements, and can only concern pay and pay-related issues. Furthermore, where a situation is considered to be sufficiently grave, the government has the power to issue a ministerial order to bring a wide range of activities into temporary, obligatory public service, including pharmaceutical production and banking. Although not specifically regulated in law, political strikes are also prohibited.

Trade union rights in practice and violations in 2009

Background: The governing Socialist Party, in power since 2005, won the September election. The party however lost its overall majority and decided to form a minority government.

Anti-union climate: According to the trade union confederation UGT-P, labour and management relations at the company level are tainted by severe pressure on workers not to join a union, considerable interference in trade union activities, and fierce opposition to external trade union representatives.

Atypical employment is hampering organising: Portugal, together with Spain and Poland, has the highest levels of precarious employment in the EU, especially among young workers. Trade unions see this as one of the reasons why organising and union activities are becoming increasingly difficult.

Copyright notice: © ITUC-CSI-IGB 2010

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