Portugal // Sonae tries to bribe their workers with a lunch on May Day

In order to boycott the May Day strike called by the Commerce, Office and Service Worker’s Union of Portugal (CESP/CGTP-IN), a Continente supermarket in Algarve is organizing a lunch for the workers.

In an workers-only area of the store, a small sheet was posted announcing the event. It happens on May Day at 1:00 p.m.

However, attempts to bribe the workers like this aren’t isolated cases. Without any shame, an official source at Sonae said that “for many years Sonae MC has organized a series of initiatives aimed at celebrating May Day with its employees in its various units throughout the country.”

CESP / CGTP-IN previously denounced that Continente had decided to raffle an Odisseias voucher among the workers who were present at their place of work on May Day. That is, among those who did not strike. This practice was characterized by Sonae as normal, listing the various socialization events that they organize on this day. These include “team lunches and dinners, cooking classes, workshops, traditional games, karaoke, raffles, among others.”

What is also normal but harder for Sonae to admit is that they use more direct strategies for demobilizing. Guillhotina was informed that in the Algarve supermarket, several workers who communicated in advance that they intended to strike on May Day were the target of pressure tactics from the management.

These intimidation techniques directly call into question the workers’ right to strike.

“1st of May – Promotions Worker’s Day”

In 2012, the supermarket chain Pingo Doce, owned by the Jerónimo Martins group, launched a big promotion of 50% discount on all its products. Under the austerity policies imposed by the Troika, what followed should be no surprise. People literally running around and fighting to gain access to essential goods such as food and hygiene products.

This year, both Pingo Doce and Continente have special campaigns for May Day. This comes as a result of the attempt by big supermarket chains to turn May Day into a day of business and large discounts.

There seems to be a competition between the chains to attract as many customers as possible. This adds the consequent need to ensure the maximum number of workers in the workplace. If they strike, the supermarket offers a corporate version of May Day, in which they work the same as normal days, but at 1 o’clock they eat a “loaf and a soup” offered by the company.

However, the workers do not want food from the soup kitchen. Nor crazy comercial deals that turn their workplaces into battlefields.

They demand the closure of the commerce sector on May Day, on every Sunday and on holidays. Better wages and more dignified and regulated work schedules compatible with their personal lives. But also collective negotiation agreements and the end of precariousness in the sector.

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