For the president of the Regional Council of Central and South America, António Graça, this is a “very serious” problem, which must be resolved as quickly as possible, otherwise a possible stoppage will cause serious damage to users.
“According to information I have, they are paying an average of around 400 euros to consular officials, a value well below what an employee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) or civil servants in Portugal earns. Four hundred euros is nothing. That is nothing. nothing. the problem that is happening in all consular posts in Brazil, “detailed the advisor to the Government’s consultative body for policies relating to Portuguese communities abroad.
At issue is a decision by the Portuguese executive, taken in 2013, which, in the midst of the economic crisis in Portugal, determined that the salaries of staff paid in reais (Brazilian currency), at a fictitious exchange rate of 2.63.
However, currently, the euro is quoted at 6.30 reais, having already reached 6.60 reais in the month.
“It began to exist in Brazil and the currency began to devalue, and there was never an adjustment in relation to these losers, which led to mismatches due to the exchange rate. How does a consular official want to work, to serve the public ? There isn’t, people are working without any enthusiasm, “he stressed.
According to António Graça, in 2020, at a meeting of the Regional Council, this matter had already been addressed and they got in touch with the MNE. “They told us they were going to make a deal, but that deal was never made”, national.
In a letter sent by António Graça to Lusa, consular officials addressed the Union of Consular Workers, Diplomatic Missions and Central Services (STCDE) of the MNE to warn that they have reached “the limit” and that they move towards a general strike, with no data set yet .
“To ask us to be calm is unfair, it is cruel. (…) All these (…) promises that have not been carried out so far, unfortunately, lead us, ultimately, to a general strike, with publicity in all vehicles press, so that the vexatious and penury situation that the Portuguese State submitted its officials in Brazil to become public”, they wrote.
“We are suffering tremendous wage discrimination against the rest of the consular posts in the world. In reality, we are paying to work for the Portuguese State”, stressed the officials, stressing the “disgraceful, shameful and humiliating” situation they are going through. with the current remuneration.
António Graça regretted that the union itself did not intervene in the situation.
“There is a very urgent need for a solution to this salary issue. If there is a strike, there will be a huge loss for users”, warned the councilor.
In addition to the salary issue, António Graça also denounced a series of “problems” that consular posts are going through, such as failures in the consular appointment scheduling platform, which delay the issuance of a citizen’s card, passport or Portuguese citizenship.
“The Government created a platform for users to make their appointments, but people are filling out the entire form and reach the end and can’t make the appointment. I decided to test it myself, I tried to make this appointment, and I couldn’t. It is true that appointments can only be made in the first days of each month, but even so it was not possible, “he said.
Graça said that the only exception in the country is Brasília (capital of Brazil), where the Embassy of Portugal is located and where consular services “are very well organized”.
The counselor mentioned that several families have to travel to Portugal urgently and are not being able to obtain the documents. In certain regions, when you get an appointment, there are only places available for “April or May next year”.
“I know of a case in Santa Catarina, of a family of seven people, who has been trying to make an appointment for two months and still hasn’t succeeded. There are people who, when they do, only have a vacancy for May 2022. This needs to be changed. platform, we need more respect for the citizen. The Government has to be much more agile”, urged António Graça.
The president of the Regional Council of Central and South America also lamented the lack of consular permanence in Brazil, due to the insufficient number of employees that the Government makes available.
António Graça also denounced to Lusa a situation that he called “regrettable”, stating that the councilor from Belém do Pará, Luís Pina, was not invited to the consultative council meetings, which he considered “a lack of respect”.
“Recently, the ambassador and the secretary of State for Communities were in Belém do Pará and Luís Pina did not even participate in the only meeting that ever existed. He is never invited, but he was elected and has to be respected. from the Regional Council, there must be respect and humility”, asked Graça, who asked for explanations about the situation, through an official letter sent to the vice-consul, but no response was received.
“There has to be a change. We will have new changes, we don’t know what will happen, so we unfortunately have to wait until February, when the new government, or the same, takes over, but the executive needs to sit at the table, humbly, so that each case is resolved, “he concluded.