Portuguese government issues order to stop national airline strike over privatization plan

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Portugal's government has issued an executive order to stop a planned four-day strike by national airline staff during the busy Christmas holiday season.

Unions representing most of state-owned TAP Air Portugal's 7,500 or so employees, including pilots and cabin crew, intended to walk off the job Dec. 27-30. They want the government to scrap its plan to privatize the flag carrier.

The center-right coalition government announced Thursday it was issuing a rare civil mobilization order to prevent the strike. It said the walkout would inconvenience families, hurt Portugal's tourism and damage the company's efforts to improve its financial health.

The government hopes to sell a 66 percent stake in the airline next year, with 5 percent of that set aside for staff.