By: NATASHA SMITH
AVERAGE SALARIES in the Algarve rose 4.6 per cent in the last quarter of 2007 over the same period the previous year, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INE) but Union representatives estimate that 50 per cent of employed workers in the region do not have job security.
Despite indications that salaries have risen, the increase is still below the national average.
Salaries in the property sector rose 4.4 per cent, while wages in the transport, storage and communications area were up 1.2 per cent.
In spite of salary rises, union representatives in the Algarve have said that around half of the total number of people working in the region are on green receipts, do not have contracts, have short-term contracts or fill temporary positions for unskilled work.
A spokesman for the organised labour union of the Algarve (USA) told The Resident: “This has a profound effect on the workers in these situations as there is no job security. One minute they can be in a job and the next day it could be gone.”
The union has said that this is taking its toll on the mental health of some workers as “the situation is out of their hands and they have a right to control their future”.
According to USA, workers in the Algarve receive on around 13 per cent less pay than the national average.
The union is also concerned that the people in “precarious situations” do not have work hours regulation, have no claim to take maternity and paternity leave, and food expenses subsidies. A vicious circle is being created, according to the USA spokesman.
“The workers have few rights if they have no contract and the companies employing them do not seem too concerned as it means cheaper labour and they can get rid of them when they are no longer needed,” he said.
This unstable situation has sparked fears that the impact will be socio-economically devastating for the region.
Many employees do not have the conditions available to them to plan for the future in terms of a career and a life, nor are these workers contributing in a positive way to the development of the Algarve because they have not been given contracts by the employers, said the USA spokesman.
In Portugal, unemployment stood at eight per cent in 2007, which was above the government’s predictions for the year and higher than the previous year’s figures, according to INE.
The government had estimated that unemployment would be at 7.8 per cent after changing it in October last year from the 7.5 per cent initially quoted in the State Budget for 2007.
The figures are damaging for the government as unemployment stood at 7.7 per cent in 2006 but on Friday (February 15), Prime Minister José Sócrates said that the government would be able to achieve its objective of creating 150,000 new jobs over the next year and a half.
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