Construction faces “most serious ever” labor problem

Union defends urgent measures

The Construction Union of Portugal said this Thursday, October 26, that the sector faces the "most serious situation ever" of labor and pointed out that 70% of foreigners arriving in the country to work in construction have no experience. .

«I have nothing against foreign workers, but around 70% of this workforce is not what our country needs, many of these workers have never worked in the construction sector and this is not the type of workforce that Portugal wants for its major works", said Albano Ribeiro, president of the Board of the Construction Union of Portugal, speaking to the Lusa agency.

The union leader stressed that urgent measures are needed "to put an end to the most serious situation ever in the construction sector" and added that the structure will request a meeting today with the Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security Ana Mendes Godinho to address the issue of the increase in informal workers in the sector, which “takes millions of euros” from Social Security.

«I hear a lot of talk on television, government officials saying they are going to build this, these infrastructures, those, hospitals, roads, railways. There are no workers to build this. I'm no longer talking about Lisbon airport, which requires around 20.000 workers", highlighted Albano Ribeiro.

The union said that the informal economy is "taking over" the construction sector, due to labor recruitment networks, which it classified as "mafia networks", which quickly bring workers from various parts of the world to the country. , who «work by the hour, or by the piece, or do not deduct anything, or deduct 15 days a month for Social Security».

«These workers, many of them, remain in their hands [of the canvassers], many of them even keep their passports and eat and sleep in spaces that are not for human beings, it is regrettable that in the XNUMXst century we are faced with a situation like this ”, said the union leader.

For the union, one of the ways to combat this issue is to facilitate the arrival of foreigners who are trained by construction companies in their countries of origin, namely Portuguese-speaking African Countries (PALOP), but whose process for bringing them to Portugal is slow.

Additionally, he continued, it is necessary for the Authority for Working Conditions (ACT) and the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) to operate throughout the country, supervising small works, as well as investing in training centers for this type of workers.

“As the workforce ages in the sector, there are no workers to be trained here, there is no entity to train workers, in the past there was a training center in every district capital, today there is none”, pointed out Albano Ribeiro.

According to the union, in the last six years around 300.000 construction workers have left the country, of which 16.000 are civil engineers.

To combat this loss of qualified labor, the union proposes that the salary of a carpenter, for example, increase from the current 780 euros per month to 950 euros, and that that of a newly qualified engineer increase from the current 1.100 euros to 1.300 euros .