José Luís Carneiro considered that what happened at Lisbon airport on 29 May was “very serious”, with passengers on international flights from outside Europe having to wait several hours in passport control.

“The right to hold plenary sessions is an inalienable right of workers, however, it is very important to evaluate the exercise of this right at all times”, he defended.

The official said that the exercise of this right cannot jeopardise “other values ​​that are also very important, namely the values ​​related to the interest of the country and the image that the country gives to the thousands of tourists who come to Portugal and who do not understand why they are then waiting for three, four hours, at the airport”.

In this context, José Luís Carneiro said that, during this week, “a contingency plan will be presented that will mobilise various means”.

“It will mobilise human resources that we will recruit in various structures of Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) workers across the country, to reinforce the contingent available at the airports of Lisbon, Porto, Faro, Azores and Madeira”, he explained.

According to the minister, “the integration of Public Security Police agents in supporting the Foreigners and Borders Service to ensure a faster response will also be reinforced”.

“We also have, fortunately, many of the workers and professionals of the Foreigners and Borders Service who do not agree with what was done, which was to schedule a plenary of workers between 09:00 and 11:00”, said José Luís Carneiro, adding that it is known “that this is the period when the greatest number of tourists arrive” in Portugal.

Thousands of arrivals

According to the official, “between 9:00 am and 11:00 am between 3,500 and 4,000 passengers arrived” which meant that, “if at those times there are workers who block the service”, they will be “contributing to creating added difficulties to the regular operation of the airport”.

“It is necessary to promote a restructuring of the functioning of the Foreigners and Borders Service”, he stressed.

At Lisbon airport, Lusa spoke to some of the affected passengers, who confirmed that they had waited more than four hours in “completely disorganised lines”.