Portugal Telecom, now owned by the French company Altice, is trying to slim down its work force by devious means, ‘informally inviting’ around 400 customer service employees to simply give up their contracts.

Union boss, Jorge Félix, said “the aim is to employ outsourced workers, earning less,” adding that if employees did not accept the terminations , he “does not know what will happen to them.”

According to Felix, the proposals for the termination of contracts started with 50 members of staff but now has been widened to the whole of customer services.

There are still some cases where workers have been offered transfers to other group companies, as already has happened. On 30 June, PT Portugal said it would transfer 118 workers to Altice companies such as Sudtel, Tnord and Visabeira.

“The company never puts anything in writing, it’s either phone calls, or people are approached in person,” said the union’s president, confirming that these informal contacts began “about a month ago.”

The government says the Labour Authority (ACT), should resolves these staff problems but ACT management says it’s up to Altice to run PT and that it is powerless to intervene.

Altice also has been in for criticism after parts of the ATM system failed to function.

Customers from several banks have had trouble performing ATM operations this morning due to communication problems, ‘communication’ being part of Altice’s remit.

ATM banking services were blocked, with customers being told they had no money, when in fact they had adequate balances.

SIBS, which owns the ATM network, admits that there were difficulties in carrying out some banking operations, but accepts no blame for the disrupted service.

“There was a communication problem on the part of PT that affected some of the links necessary to carry out operations. The situation has been regularised in the meantime,” the SIBS press office announced.

Altice, owner of PT, commented that, “there have been constraints in one of the PT infrastructures, which provide some of the contracted services to SIBS, and which have caused an impact on support services provided by SIBS to banks.”

Altice said the situation was resolved in “just over an hour” with 70% of ATMs working normally.