Border control officers call off planned strikes at country’s airports

  • Ana Marcela
  • 26 May 2023

With the promulgation of the diplomas on the transition of personnel and the creation of the APMMA "the grounds that were laid down in the strike notice" have been removed.

Strikes by Portugal’s immigration and borders service (SEF) inspectors planned for Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Madeira airports were called off on Friday, the union of investigators, inspectors and border guards (SIIFF) said.

“We have just revoked and lifted the pre-notices [of strike],” SIIFF leader Renato Mendonça told Lusa.

For the union, with the promulgation of the diplomas on the transition of personnel and the creation of the APMMA [Portuguese agency for minorities, migrations and asylum, now renamed AIMA – the agency for integration, migrations and asylum], which also establishes a deadline of 29 October for the transition, “the grounds that were laid down in the strike notice” have been removed.

At issue were the stoppages scheduled at Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport between 5am and 10am on 27-29 May, 3-5 June, 10-12 June, 17-19 June and 24-26 June.

At the remaining airports and border crossings, notably maritime, the strike was to run on May 22 and 29 and June 5, 12, 19 and 26.

“Regardless of [the SEF abolition law] having been enacted, it fell far short of what we understood would be the safeguarding of our rights. There are some issues that are not in line with safeguarding those rights, namely with seniority issues and some discretion in the application of certain issues that are not common to all career categories,” he added.

In the first strike, between the 20th and 22nd of this month, the number of SEF staff joining the strike was between 90 and 100%, according to figures reported by SIIFF to Lusa.

The president of the country promulgated on Wednesday the government diplomas – approved in the Cabinet on April 6 – on the replacement of SEF and the transition regime for the respective workers, foreseeing difficulties in the initial phase of the new agency.

In a note published on the official website of the Presidency of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa stated that he had opted to promulgate these diplomas “despite the difficulties that the agency will have in managing – in this initial phase – the residence permit processes currently pending”.

However, Renato Mendonça stressed that the promulgation of the diploma does not prevent SIIFF from having matters to “continue working and trying to improve the situations of members, alerting again the proper instances so that these same gaps may be filled” and that all rights may be duly recognized.

The extinction of the SEF will take place in October, according to the announcement made this Thursday by the interior minister, José Luís Carneiro, who assured that there will be a transition period for the implementation of this reform.

Under the extinction of the SEF, the administrative functions will pass to AIMA and the institute of registration and notary (IRN), while the police powers will go to the Public Security Police, National Republican Guard and Judiciary Police.