May 27, 2016 / 1:12 PM / 2 years ago

Portugal PM warns Lisbon dock workers to end strike

LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal’s prime minister warned Lisbon dock workers on Friday that his patience was running out after a strike that has lasted a month, paralyzing the city’s ports.

Portugal Prime Minister Antonio Costa speaks during a banking conference in Lisbon, Portugal, May 17, 2016. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

Lisbon is Portugal’s second largest port and the dock workers have warned they would continue their stoppage until June 16 if port operators do not drop plans to reduce benefits and hire short-term workers to work some shifts.

“This is a serious conflict for the economy and the government is completely committed to finding a solution,” Prime Minister Antonio Costa told parliament. “But everything has a limit and I can add that the limit is for the two sides to reach agreement today.”

The government has the power to adopt a public interest clause to force the workers to return to their jobs. Previous governments have done so in the past but if Costa went ahead with such a move it would be the first time his new Socialist government, which is supported by the far-left, took such action.

Representatives from the port of Lisbon’s administration, port operators and dock workers are meeting on Friday to discuss how to end the strike.

Reporting By Sergio Goncalves, writing by Axel Bugge; editing by Ralph Boulton

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