Emigrés in France: Government “must prepare for calls for help”

Rui Barata, councillor for the Portuguese communities in France, has today advised the State to prepare for an increase in unemployment among emigrés, many of which have already lost their jobs.

Hopes are that the Portuguese government will have the wherewithal to offer some kind of financial/ social support.

France has a huge community of Portuguese, working in sectors across the board.

Says Barata: “The Portuguese State should be placing social attachés in consulates as soon as possible.

“We have to be able to anticipate the consequences that are coming as a result of this crisis and loss of jobs”, particularly of nationals who only recently started working in France.

Talking to Lusa, Barata stressed that “a large part” of the new unemployed are workers from the ‘temporary sectors’ (construction/ restaurants etc) who will find it incredibly difficult now to find work, particularly as companies are cutting back.

Head of the Franco-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce Carlos Vinhas Pereira warns that it “won’t be possible to absorb all these people in this situation by the end of the year. All business that has been lost has been definitively lost. There will be a pick up”, he agreed. But it won’t come quickly, particularly as France is still emerging from lockdown.

Workers on contracts are benefitting from a form of lay-off scheme, but those who already number among France’s 500,000 unemployed are “starting to become extremely worried”, said Barata, suggesting there will have to be “a study by Portuguese diplomats to discover all the people now at risk”.

Carlos Vinhas Pereira added that he is also concerned about the 700,000 young people in France, a number from emigré families, who now won’t have ‘enough work’.

Rui Barata believes a campaign to take the stigma out of asking for government support may be one of the answers: “There is a certain shame in people who have left their country in search of a better life to ask for help from their own country when they need it”, he said.

Says Lusa, analysts have warned that France’s unemployment could reach 800,000 by the end of the year – that’s roughly 13% of the workforce.

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