Algarve’s jobless want to work

Algarve hoteliers have been accused of suggesting that the region’s unemployed don’t want to work, after claiming difficulties in finding staff for the summer season.

Last week, the president of the Algarve’s largest association of hotels and tourist resorts (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas, told Lusa news agency that businesses were struggling to hire cleaners and waiters in a region that has the highest unemployment rate in Portugal.

However, Tiago Jacinto from the Algarve hotel workers union (Sindicato de Hotelaria do Algarve) said he could not understand Viegas’ statement, which he described as “contradictory since hoteliers dismiss thousands of workers every year”.

“They are insinuating that the Algarve people don’t want to work, when the few job vacancies available offer precarious work conditions that are almost impossible to accept,” he said.

According to the union leader, there are companies using unpaid interns to carry out jobs that should be filled by some of the region’s unemployed. “Labour exploitation cases have increased significantly,” said Tiago Jacinto, adding that the unemployed are entitled to their benefits and should not be forced to accept precarious work conditions.

AHETA president Elidérico Viegas told Lusa that the fact that thousands of immigrants have now left Portugal could be the reason behind the lack of people available for temporary work in the hotel sector.

According to Viegas, those workers who often applied for unskilled jobs were in the vast majority Brazilian and Eastern European. Because of the economic crisis, many of these citizens have now either returned to their home countries or sought better conditions elsewhere, he said.