"We have workers here from the north to the south of the country, we went to present a motion with our main demands, which are many, namely collective hiring," the coordinator of the Federation of Food, Beverage, Hotel and Tourism Unions (FESAHT), Maria das Dores Gomes told reporters. Concentrated in front of the headquarters of the association of hotels, restaurants and similar in Portugal (AHRESP), in Lisbon, the workers considered it "fundamental" that the business association "responds to all collective labor contracts".
According to Maria das Dores Gomes, "workers today earn practically the national minimum wage, and therefore collective hiring is essential." Asked about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in the sector, the union leader said that "it is no excuse, because there were years and years, about seven or eight years, in which the hotel industry was, in fact, on the rise, with great profits and there the workers did not see their living conditions improved".
During the pandemic, "a good part of the companies were entitled to support from the State, support with public funds", signaling that because of this, for FESAHT, "they were not penalised". "The main rights of workers are being questioned, namely the right to vacation, to balance between family and work, a large number of companies are imposing the hour bank, so at this moment the unions are very attentive" , stressed the union official.
Maria das Dores Gomes also denounced that at this time companies from the various sectors covered by FESAHT "go to pick up the interns, they only pay the food subsidy in some cases, in others not even that and therefore they have workers for free", even talking about "slavery". "It is also not attractive for young people, because they are not being accompanied by a professional. They are thrown to the 'lions', as we usually say. They are interns and are replacing permanent workers. We consider that this is, in fact, an abuse by the companies", he stressed.
FESAHT delivered to AHRESP a motion for demands and "requests for meetings later this month", according to Maria das Dores Gomes, due to the issue being "very urgent". The protesting workers then marched to the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, with the aim of handing over the motion and requesting a meeting with Minister Ana Mendes Godinho.
In the motion, to which Lusa had access, the workers demand the "immediate reopening of all companies and establishments", the "reinstatement of all workers' rights withdrawn since the beginning of the pandemic", the "payment of wage arrears" and the "integration into the cadre of all dismissed workers". "Respect for workers' rights", "negotiation of collective bargaining", a "minimum salary increase of 90 euros for all workers" and "avoidance of all unnecessary restrictions and constraints" are also demanded.