Workers

Information about the railway workers since 1856.

The building of the national railway network has caused wide changes to the concept of travel in Portugal, as well as to the act of travelling. Leisure travels with educational and/or health components arise as travelling and communication has become easier. Being aware of such possibility, and taking advantage of the increasing interest thereon, railway companies developed a range of commercial offers, planned services and entered into agreements with other railway networks, seeking to encourage tourism travelling.

Being aware of the need to support tourism, on the 11.07.1963, CP’s Board of Directors approved a new bonus chart for employees who speak English, French, German working in the Information Service at the stations.

By developing measures to support railway workers, particularly to support the growing number of female workers with small children, on the 26.05.1971, CP’s Railway Welfare Committee opened the first Kindergarten of the company, which was located in the canteen building at Calçada do Duque, and was aimed at the children of employees living in the Lisbon area, aged from 2 months to 6 years old.

With capacity for 50 children, the kindergarten had 3 rooms, a medical centre, two kitchens, one laundry room and a recreational area. It was run by a social worker, a delegate from CP’s Housing and Culture sector, and also had two teachers, one paediatrician, one nursing assistant, as well as kitchen and auxiliary staff.

The Instituto Ferroviário do Sul e Sueste, also known as Instituto Ferroviário do Barreiro, originally came from the Cofre Amparo Viúvas e Órfãos dos Ferroviários do Sul e Sueste, and granted monthly pensions to widows and orphans who are not covered by the Caixa de Reformas e Pensões dos Caminhos de Ferro do Estado. The articles of association were approved on the 09.05.1924 , however, it was only established on the 01.01.1927. It is based in Barreiro, and apart from protecting orphans of railway workers, similarly to the Cofre de Amparo, it amplifies its action by housing sons and daughters of railway workers from the entire railway network, aged from 6 to 18 years old, granting primary teaching and technical training, and it also provided for the attendance of industrial and higher education.

The holiday camps for the children of rail operators began in the 1930s, first in Costa da Caparica and then in Praia das Maçãs. The success of this initiative lead the CP to support the opening of other camps. Such camps were managed by the Assistance Committee which would report directly to the Board of Directors.  

One of these camps began operating in 1947 in Cassurrães, Beira Alta, in a private home adapted for the purpose, awaiting the opening of the building which would be built by CP in a land purchased from the City Council of Mangualde. Such building – built by the Road and Works Department – was inspired by the Praia das Maçãs camp project of the architect Cottinelli Telmo and opened on 26.07.1949, playing a role in the increase of the number of children and youths who benefited from this type of equipment.

Railway associations arose along with the construction and operation of railway lines in Portugal. At a time when the State did not provide solutions for the social protection of employees, the rail operators from the different companies developed initiatives for the defence of interests and social protection, resulting in the creation of mutual aid societies.

On 01.01.1924, the management of the "Companhia Portuguesa para a Construção e Exploração de Caminhos de Ferro" – responsible for the construction and operation of the Vale do Vouga lines – approved the regulation of the Retirement and Aid Fund. In addition to the retirement and survivors’ pension, the fund also granted to its members sickness benefits, primary and industrial education, creation of libraries, affordable renting, provision of essential goods whose value would be deducted monthly, allowance for funeral expenses, among others.

The several companies which built and operated railways in Portugal have been providing or supporting the construction of social structures for their workers, such as neighbourhoods, trainee schools, holiday camps, libraries, medical services, food stores, sports groups, among others. Such structures – directly funded by the companies or through the associated workers themselves – operated as a key element of social support, training/educational resources and life beyond the daily work.

On 22. 05.1925, CP, from the different approved projects, sent to the "Comissão de Plano de Obras Novas" the project for the construction of houses for the Operation Department staff, prepared by the Construction service.  

The introduction of railways in the mid 19th century involved a concentration of unprecedented resources and the exercise of rail activity has resulted in the most diverse professional careers and positions. The companies assumed themselves as centres of great concentration of labour, with fixed-term staff and a high number of temporary and additional personnel. At an early stage, the companies hired female workers, being the level crossing guard one of the positions with more visibility.

On 24.01.1938, CP, continuing the policy of improvements granted to its workers, published the General Direction Ordinance no. 256 with measures of maternity protection, therefore granting childbirth benefits: 30 days leave to all fixed-term or additional female personnel; one year of consecutive work gave entitlement to an allowance equal to a third of the salary. To the level crossing guards, a 50$00 surcharge was added.

The Portuguese government authorised that a Special Retirement Fund for Railway Administrative Staff and Day Labour be set up in July 1899. It was managed and subsidised by the Board of Directors to ensure the same benefits as attributed to the other railway workers by the Caminhos de Ferro do Sul e Sueste Aid Fund.

The licence was issued on 31.01.1901 and altered its name to the Railway Retirement and Aid Fund and it took over the previous fund regarding liabilities to pay pensions to invalid members and their families, define retirement pensions of 25%, 50% and 75% of the wages of the different workers and the Board of Directors could even award the workers full retirement pay to those who “deserved it because of their relevant services”.

Railway Associations arose along with the construction and operation of railway lines in Portugal. Even though the railway workers in the different countries up and down the country had very similar social benefits, they were not always united in the defence of interests and social protection, which led to the appearance of various mutual aid associations. The articles of association of the first railway mutual aid society were approved on 18.06.1872 for the Caminhos-de-ferro a Sul do Tejo Workers’ Humanitarian Association, based in Barreiro. The association only accepted male workers from the Caminhos-de-ferro do Sul e Sueste aged between 15 and 45 who were fit to work.