Strike closes 90% of foreigners and immigration service offices

  • Lusa
  • 5 April 2023

The non-police employees began a two-day strike today after a meeting with the government on Monday ended without understanding.

The adhesion to the strike of administrative workers of the Foreigners and Immigration Service (SEF) closed about 90% of service points nationwide on Wednesday,  a spokesperson told Lusa.

The non-police employees began a two-day strike today after a meeting with the government on Monday ended without understanding.

“I believe that 90% of the posts are closed, and the few that are open are understaffed,” said the president of the Union of Foreigners and Borders Service Employees (SINSEF), Artur Girão, during a meeting of a group of workers outside the SEF facilities in Lisbon.

According to the union, the adhesion to the strike is “large and within expectations” since it is still uncertain where many of the staff will work.

At stake is the integration of SEF workers into the Judiciary Police, the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN) and the future Portuguese Agency for Migrations and Asylum (APMA) as part of the restructuring process of that body.

“Let’s hope that tomorrow’s [Thursday] cabinet meeting, the APMA law – which we are told will be approved – thinks about the workers and the immigrant community. It’s very easy for the government to say that immigration is strategic for the country, but it has to reflect this on the public services that provide this immigration service, namely with the workers that deal with documental issues”, the union leader said.

The negotiations started with the ministry “did not result in anything”, according to the same source.

“We want to have better conditions to receive them [immigrants], and this is what we expect this agency to bring”, Artur Girão added, referring to APMA.

We know that workers will have to go to the IRN (…), but we don’t yet know where to go or the conditions”. On the eve of the approval of a law, there was clearly no consultation here”, the union leader added.

“For a percentage of workers, the future is uncertain. They don’t know where they will work”, Artur Girão stressed.

The union claims that, after three negotiation meetings, they were never presented with the final documents of the process, and hopes that after the organic law of the agency is approved, the minister for parliamentary affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes, will begin to meet with the workers’ representatives, to “plan for the future”.

On Monday in Matosinhos, the minister of internal administration, José Luís Carneiro, told journalists he hoped to reach an agreement with the unions of SEF administrative staff and inspectors, who have also given notice of a strike between Thursday and next Monday.

Non-police employees are on strike today and Thursday.