Union leader cites “total failure of the State”
One of the main unions representing workers in Portugal’s registry offices (Conservatórias) has scheduled two days of strike action per week during the month of August to protest against worsening working conditions.
President of the SNR union Rui Rodrigues told Lusa that actions planned include a demonstration at the Institute of Registration and Notary (IRN) in Lisbon on 1 August, blaming what he said was a “panoply of problems” affecting workers and the quality of services provided to citizens.
“This Friday we will issue a notice of a strike for August, planned for the whole month, on Mondays and Fridays, he said. On August the first, there will be a demonstration outside the IRN. It has already been approved in board minutes.”
He said the union’s members are “exhausted” and that there is a failure on the part of the Ministry of Justice, which is responsible for the sector, to comply with various agreements and rules.
Questioned about the government’s stance on the union’s demands, Rodrigues stessed there had been a meeting on May 30 with the secretary of state for justice in which “all problems were enumerated”. Since then there had been no response, he said.
“There are more and more registry offices in arrears and with increasing delays,” he explained. “There is going to be a worsening (of the situation) in the summer, because officials are starting their holidays. Renewals of citizen’s cards will go the way of the problems already facing notarial and automobile registries, among others.
“Anyone who wants to schedule a renewal in person will have a two- to three-month wait,” he warned.
According to Rodrigues, the average age of employees “is very high” and in the city of Porto alone there are at least 11 employees on long-term sick leave.
The union leader lamented the absence of an occupational health plan for workers – which he stressed is mandatory – giving several cases of exhaustion and depression.
Another union within the sector, the STRN, has also issued a warning to the government, telling Lusa that the sector has lost at least 507 professionals (65 registrars and 442 registration officers) since António Costa took office as prime minister in 2015.
“This deficit, which urgently needs to be filled, is worsened every month by the retirement, on average, of twelve professionals, which will mean there is less and less capacity to respond,” said STRN president Arménio Maximino. “Without having acted in time, the Government has created all the conditions for the worsening of a chaos that can no longer be disguised.”
He also warned that this summer several registry offices will close “due, mainly, to the lack of human resources” – describing the situation as a “total failure of the State” and lamenting the “calamitous state and advanced degradation in which the registry sector finds itself.”
In terms of claims, Maximino said it is urgent to correct salary asymmetries and to upgrade careers – as well as to demand the immediate opening of an external competition for the recruitment of registrars and registrar officers.
“There is a lack of more than 30% of the necessary staff,” he said. “Official data from the IRN itself pointed in 2021 to a shortage of 1,756 professionals, including 234 registrars and 1,522 registration officers.”