90,000 ‘clandestine staff’ work in Portugal’s restaurant sector, say union bosses

There are as many as 90,000 ‘clandestine’ employees working in Portugal’s restaurant sector.

The news comes from the catering syndicate of the North, which claims that it is this phenomenon that “helps explain the drop in unemployment in the industry”.

But if this suggests that all is ‘well’, and that at least people have jobs – albeit below the radar – Diário de Notícias reports that it most certainly is not.

Catering businesses are bemoaning the lack of “specialist labour”, while staff are upset over “lack of work conditions” and low wages.

Said union leader Francisco Figueiredo: “The only people who work in the sector are those who do not have another alternative”.

Training is almost non-existent, hours are long, pay is very often barely above the minimum wage, and stipulated rest periods are frequently ignored.

Thus, with trained young people balking at the terms, many restaurants end up resorting to “informal work” for which they do not pay social security, he added.

The 90,000 clandestine catering workers translates into 30% of the sector’s workforce, Figueiredo told DN.

António Baio, who leads the catering syndicate in the centre of Portugal, agrees, adding that “many young people” coming into the sector come up against this ‘negative reality’.

“Apprenticeships are not respected, there are no days off, many have to substitute staff instead of learning from them, and they earn below the minimum wage”.

The self-perpetuating problem appears to have no immediate answers in sight.

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