Speaking to Lusa, Albano Ribeiro, chairman of the Portuguese Construction Union, said that the organisation will present to the Association of Civil Construction and Public Works Industries (AICCOPN) with a proposal to increase wages, on average, by 200 euros for workers, referring that “only with salary increases” can professionals be prevented from leaving Portugal.

“For example, a qualified worker, a carpenter, earns 780 euros, a supervisor earns, at the moment, 850 euros, and an engineer earns 1,100 euros”, he highlighted, adding that with the proposal that the union will present to AICCOPN, an engineer would pass earning 1,300 euros, a foreman 1,050 euros and a skilled worker 985 euros. According to Albano Ribeiro, the proposal is “a 200 euro increase for workers”.

“Hundreds [of workers] leave every month” and “there are public works that will not go ahead, such as the requalification of schools, hospitals, for example, the railway and I didn’t even mention the [Lisbon] airport”, said Albano Ribeiro.

The union president also recalled the housing crisis in Portugal. “Right now the construction sector should be building, for the country's needs, more than 90,000 homes and is only building around 30,000 homes” per year, because “there are no workers”, he warned.

The official said that if AICCOPN does not give the response they expect “naturally the workers mobilise, stop, go on strike and go to the association to protest. It's normal, it's part of democracy,” but it's something they still want to avoid, he said.

“Civil society itself, upon becoming aware of these proposals, I have no doubt that it will be in solidarity with construction workers”, he guaranteed.

Lusa contacted AICCOPN and is awaiting a response.