Not even recent renovations have prevented rainwater from continuing to leak inside Faro’s Finanças (tax authority) head office.
The office, located in a century-old building, underwent renovation work recently, designed to improve working conditions for employees.
But the heavy rain which has fallen on Faro in these past weeks has clearly shown that the goal was not achieved.
António Frazão, head of the Faro district’s Union of Tax Workers (STI), said these issues affect many tax authority buildings across the Algarve but are particularly serious in Faro.
“The Faro Finanças office is located in a building which has serious structural deficiencies related to its age and the fact that it was not built for the purpose that it has been used for,” Frazão told reporters outside the building on Monday morning.
The renovation work included repairs to windows and doors and a “very large intervention” designed to renovate a large section of the building’s roof.
“From what it seems, the fact that they worked on the roof seems to have somehow affected the structure of the building and there are still leaks. Before it used to rain inside the building as it did outdoors. But the problem with leaks continues,” the union boss said.
The issue worsened with the bad weather that has blighted Faro recently.
“Parts of the ceiling started to fall and the risks for workers are becoming more and more imminent,” he warned.
A temporary solution was to move some workers to another part of the building where the former Civil Government of Faro used to be located. However, the same issues occurred.
“The ceiling of one of the toilets caved in. There are big water leaks and we had sections which were flooded with water. Workers had to cover their computers with plastic,” he said.
“Someone could be electrocuted”
While many of the 150 workers are working from home, there are still “several dozens of people” who go into the office everyday. The union says this is an issue that “must be resolved” as it is a “matter of safety”.
“Employees must be assured adequate hygiene, safety and health conditions when they go into work, and that is not happening. They cannot, in any way, work in a place where the collapse of a ceiling could be imminent. We have power outlets and computers on the ground. Floods can cause a short circuit, someone could be electrocuted,” Frazão said.
Similar problems have also been reported at tax offices in Albufeira, Olhão and Quarteira.
A promise was made in 2017 by the then-Secretary of State for Tax Affairs, Rocha Andrade, to build a new tax office in Faro, but it has so far gone unfulfilled.
The union continues to demand the construction of a new building to solve these issues once and for all.
The possibility of temporarily moving the Faro office to another building has also been discussed but has yet to move forward.
“As it seems, there is no such building in Faro and it was concluded that a new building must be built. And that is what we want: safety, health and, above all, dignity.”
Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper