3 February 2009

Minister of Foreign Affairs Against Employment Discrimination in England

The employment of more than a hundred Italian and Portuguese to work in a refinery triggered workers fury

Strike continues against Portuguese and Italian

The Portuguese Foreign Minister, Luis Amado, yesterday found unacceptable any attempt at discrimination against employees, Portuguese or not, and argued that any labour difficulties must be resolved in a legal framework.

"This attempt of discrimination is totally unacceptable to the Portuguese government," said Luís Amado, at the ceremony to transfer the presidency of the Community Ibero-Americana in Lisbon, when questioned by Lusa news agency over the recent protests in the UK against the hiring of foreign workers .

The minister said the government is monitoring the situation in the UK - where there has been some protests against the hiring of foreign workers, namely Portuguese and Italian - by the Secretary of State for Communities and the Embassy of Portugal in London and has received "guarantees that there will be no discrimination" and that the legal framework will be respected.

"We want to emphasize the absolute responsibility that governments must take to avoid a protectionist, xenophobic and nationalistic tendency, which if not stopped in quick and strong initiatives by the governments, can drag us into a crisis even bigger," added the minister . Luis Amado said this in the context that the Portuguese government wants to "express a very strong message of principle as to what should be the attitudes of governments", in the sense that "whatever the difficulties that companies have" they should be dealt "according to the law and not according to principles of discrimination."

"Many companies will lay off staff, a bit all over Europe, but what is important is that regardless of [the workers] being Portuguese or another nationality, this process of adjustment of firms to the new economic reality develops without discrimination and without the violation of fundamental principles governing the European area today," insisted.

The protests in the UK began when the French oil company Total gave to Irem, the Italian company a contract to build a refinery unit in Lindsey, East of England. Around a hundred Portuguese and Italian employees work there, a number that should rise to 400 in March. The British trade unions complain that the workers which they represent have not had an opportunity to apply for the jobs, this in a context of increasing unemployment rate in that country, which is currently at 6.1%.

Source: Diário de Noticias with Lusa


Meanwhile, according to an interview done by the daily newspaper Público to the Portuguese Ambassador in London, António Santana Carlos, several Portuguese workers returned to Portugal for fear of reprisals. Only 18 Portuguese workers remain in Lindsey.

Update at 20:17 via Lusa:


Over 12 Portuguese workers target of protests in the refinery of Lindsey may return home Wednesday, leaving only six in the UK, told to Lusa news agency a source from the Office of the Secretary of State for the Communities.

According to the same source, the company has guaranteed that these workers will be paid, although in a lesser amount if the deadlock remains, and if they do not withdraw from their contracts.

The Italian company responsible for the recruitment is also available to readmit to the service the workers who have returned to Portugal if they wish.

"It is possible that tomorrow (Wednesday) 12 more workers will return, staying there only six nationals, who perform supervisory functions and belong to the personnel of the Italian company", said the same source.

The workers (mostly welders and metal workers) had been hired from the second half of January for a period of about four months.

Meanwhile, hundreds of workers from several refineries and power plants in other parts of the UK remain on strike for the fifth day, after an interregnum during the week-end, demanding that British workers are hired.

An investigation of the program Newsnight, BBC, broadcasted on Monday night, found evidence of the involvement of unions in organizing the protests, which are illegal, and that their leaders deny.

A trade unionist, Kenny Ward, in the studio, said that the aim of the protests is "to have a fair and reasonable access to jobs that are available in these projects."

Ward denied the existence of xenophobia against foreigners, arguing with the fight for "right to work within a reasonable distance from home."


7 comments:

  1. Joanna
    It would appear that your blog is now nothing to do with the injustice done to Madeleine McCann by both the Portuguese and British authorities/
    Your editorial is now focused on being anti British
    Such a shame for you were a well respected and unbiased reporter of the truth this is now not so.

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  2. I am neither british nor portuguese and I think that background information about the Brtish conduct regarding foreign countries and their people is helping to understand how they treated Portugal and it's investigation in the Maddie case. There might not even be a government cover-up, just plain old xenophobia and colonial conduct.

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  3. And WTF has this got to do with Madeleine McCann.

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  4. Joana,

    I thank you for all the information you provide via your Blog. Us UK mushrooms would still be in the dark being fed Sh ! te regarding the MBM case if it were not for you and all the other Portuguese Bloggers providing the information that you do. How can reporting news be anti British? Look at the downright racist and xenophobic comments Goncalo Amaral and all of the PJ were treated with (and still are) by the British Press, just for doing their jobs. That behaviour makes me ashamed of Britain also people who choose to neglect their children and then try to pass it of as cultural thing makes me sick. Yes perhaps some British people do put their children to bed at around 7 or 8 to have the evening to themselves but they most certainly do not put their kids to bed and then go out and leave them unsupervised open to all kinds of danger let alone abduction. If they did then they would have Social Services knocking at their door! Joana keep up the good work!

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  5. The point is, are british workers and british unions willing to work under the same wages and conditions those foreign workers do? I think not! That's preciselly the reason for companies hiring portuguese, italians, africans, asians, etc., etc.

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  6. As far as we are led to believe Total pay the same wages to contractors whether they are British or not.

    We shouldn't be surprised with the events at Total. Sir John Rose told the British Government 2 years ago that this COULD happen. He was ignored. Everything was (is) for sale in the UK. It is hardly surprising when things get tough, as they are for all EU countries, that companies favour their home countries when deciding to expand or cut back.

    Is it surprising that an Italian company, hired by Total of France should employ Italian workers?

    We have sold almost everything from airports, car manufacturers and not one of our leading investment banks is British - the Government was happy when things were good, low unemployment, economy grew - did we hear anyone including the unions complain? no. We only have this Government to blame for the way things are.

    What this has to do with Madeleine McCann I don't know but since it's being discussed here I felt inclined to comment.

    Please don't tar all British with the same brush. We don't all read the newspapers in fact some of us gave up reading newspapers decades ago long before the internet was as accessible to everyone as it is now. I have been getting my information online for 30 years - how long have you?

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  7. Unbelievable!This blog is only telling what has been happening to some portuguese who are working in England, in the last few days, and there are already some english posters feeling insulted and accusing Joana and Astro of promoting racism against the english!
    It's not a pleasant feeling when someone criticizes your country and its people, is it? Now,can you imagine what it feels like to be criticized, insulted and humiliated every day for months?And knowing that the reason why that insults exist is because someone who committed a crime doesn't want to pay for it and is pretending to be the victim?Think about it...

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