Algarve hotels warn of effect of Easter immigration strike

  • Lusa
  • 5 April 2023

The "new strike warning from the SEF, planned for Easter", it is expected that the "impact on arrivals and departures from the airport will be significant".

The Algarve’s main hotel association called on the government on Tuesday to “exhaust all legal means” to prevent strikes called by the unions of inspectors and administrative staff of the Foreigners and Immigration Service (SEF) over Easter.

The Algarve Hotels and Tourism Developments Association (AHETA) has warned of the “brutal consequences” that these workers’ strikes, called for between Wednesday and Monday, could have on tourist activity by coinciding with the Easter period when a greater influx of tourists is expected in the region.

“The national interest should be above particular interests and, if there is no other option, the government should exhaust all legal means to avoid this strike, including providing for the collaboration of the PSP police force to lessen the heavy impact,” AHETA said in a statement.

The same source said this was an urgent decision because the strikes will affect services like passenger control at Faro airport, with damage to the region’s image because the lack of staff leads to queues of passengers, particularly those travelling to and from countries outside the European Union.

“The episode we experienced a few weeks ago at Faro airport, during a national strike – forcing passengers to wait for several hours in crowded lounges, even causing bad feeling and fainting, among other problems – the most serious of which was the image of the destination that was left for all our clients (…) has so destroyed the image of the Algarve destination that many promotional campaigns will not soon erase”, AHETA argued.

With the emergence of a “new strike warning from the SEF, planned for Easter”, which “marks the end of the low season and allows the influx of thousands of tourists to the Algarve”, it is expected that the “impact on arrivals and departures from the airport will be significant, continuing to ‘denigrate’ the image of the destination”, he added.

“Without questioning everyone’s rights to claim processes, we must consider other factors such as the contribution that tourism is giving to the country, so we appeal to those who have the power of decision to do everything to avoid this strike that could have so much impact on the main economic activity of the country’s main tourist destination,” the Algarve business association said.

The same source noted that if the strike is confirmed, it would be the second to affect the airport in four months and asked, “what will happen for the rest of the year?”.

“We have to define what paths we want to follow, if we should all work for the recovery of the sector and the country or if, on the other hand, we should work to destroy the work already done,” he said.

The Union of Foreigners and Immigration Service Workers (SINSEF), which includes non-police employees, gave a strike notice for 5 and 6 April last week.

The SCIF/SEF (Sindicato da Carreira de Investigação e Fiscalização do SEF) also gave notice of a strike between 6 and 10 April, coinciding with the Easter period, which could cause disturbances at airports.

At stake is the integration of SEF workers into the Judiciary Police (PJ), the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs (IRN) and the future Portuguese Agency for Migration and Asylum (APMA) as part of the restructuring process of that body, whose union negotiations with the government on the draft decree-law regulating the transfer of employees are ongoing.