Expatica news

Locals in uproar – Praia da Luz Post Office to shut

ctt2Residents of Praia da Luz, Lagos, are in uproar today after receiving notification that the management of Portugal’s beleaguered Post Office is to close the local branch next year.

A message from the Luz parish council resident has outlined, in no uncertain terms, how the closure will affect residents of this popular seaside town. 

The Praia da Luz Post Office has one, hard-working, member of staff dedicated to serving the community. The outlet is seldom without a queue of people.

There are around 400 Apartado boxes and the branch has low staff overheads, serving local businesses as well as individuals. Customers soon will face a journey to the Post Offcie in Lagos, unless alternative arrangements are made to re-site the Post Office, as has happened in Alcoutim where the Council agreed to take over basic Post Offcie services.

One resident commented to algarvedailynews.com, “Quite clearly, the management has no concern for public service.  As you can imagine, there is a lot of disquiet among the large expat community as well, no doubt, as the Portuguese residents and we all have a feeling that we should ‘do something’ even though we would be hitting our heads against a brick wall.”

“If the Praia da Luz office closes, despite its high customer usage, there is no telling where else the axe will strike.  It looks like the ultimate aim is for there only to be CTT offices in very large towns and cities.”

The local Young Socialist association slammed the decision by CTT, as has the President of the Parish Council who posted a comment on Facebook, objecting to the closure,

“As a citizen of this parish and as chairman of the local Parish Council, I can inform you that the final and immediate closure of the CTT branch in Praia da Luz is planned and I express my complete disagreement with the decision taken by CTT’s management.

“This will mark the end of a public service which has existed for more than five decades, serving three localities – Almadena, Espiche and Luz – and two large housing zones…” reads the posting, adding that people soon will have to travel to Lagos and be prepared to wait up to an hour to be served in its hopelessly overcrowded Post Office.

Keenly aware of the benefits of a rising foreign population, the 2011 census showed 2,000 foreigners in a total 5,000 population, the Parish Council president says it is scant encouragement for those seeking to live in Luz, notably the current influx of Italians and French, when the town doesn’t even have a Post Office.

CTT, privatised in 2014, in the past two years has suffered a continuing fall in profits and share price while its management pushes through a raft of measures to make the Post Office, ‘more efficient.’ Now run as a business solely to create profits for its new shareholders, the company is shedding staff, selling assets and closing branches, starting with smaller rural units and moving swiftly on to those in busy seaside locations.

The government’s view is that the business is a private one and, therefore, it can do what it wants as long as basic service levels are met – if they are not, CTT will be fined.

On December 10th, CTT workers launched a petition demanding that the government buys back some of the shares it sold on privatisation, to enable the State to influence policy and to maintain the Universal Public Service element that the Board currently is riding roughshod over.

The petitioners state that since CTT’s privatisation, “the company has pursued a path of disrespect for its public service obligations which should be underpinning the concession in force between the State and CTT,” and they no longer can put up with the current strategy that is ruining the postal service and irreversibly is destroying its structure, including the mass closure of essential smaller branches, often serving remote communities.

“The State must enforce the Universal Public Service obligations and must demand that a quality postal service is guaranteed on equal terms to all citizens,” reads the petition.

As for Praia da Luz locals, the loss of their busy Post Office branch after 50 years of trouble free operation indeed is a blow and will be resisted through legitimate action. As things stand, CTT can do what it wants in the name of profit, highlighting the poorly drafted privatisation contract signed between CTT and the Passos Coelho government that allows vibrant local branches to be shut down, with the full range of services only available in larger towns.

CTT has closed 53 stores so far this year and has opened 70 basic facilities in alternative locations including parish councils, bars, cafes and stationers.

A public meeting hastily has been arranged for December 15th, see the poster below.


For the CTT workers petition, see: https://peticaopublica.com/pview.aspx?pi=PT91394

If you want to sign the petition, the form will accept your residency number instead of the Cartão de Cidadão.


See also: ‘Workers demand government buys back control of Post Office’