Welcome to the Week em Breve! This Week’s News in Portugal: Exploited Workers, Police Racial Profiling, Money Over Love, Brand New Boats, Barroso Bears, and much more!
Zara Owner Accused of Illegal Employment Conditions
The Commerce, Offices and Services Trade Union has spoken out against Spanish retail group Inditex, which owns Zara, Zara Home, Bershka, Pull & Bear, Massimo Dutti, Stradivarius, Oysho, and Uterque. The fashion giant has been accused of exploiting Portuguese employees through illegal scheduling practices. The unions also noted low wages, the objectification of female workers (through mandatory requirements that they wear red lipstick), overly loud music, and unclean staff areas.
The Scourge of Racial Profiling
Publico revealed that a 2006 PSP directive that based the risk a neighborhood posed partially on its “ethnic-social composition” was still in use in 2016. This has, of course, drawn criticism. It was one of a number of factors that the police used to determine risk of “problematic neighborhoods,” which are now referred to as “sensitive urban areas.” Whether this criteria is still being used to classify the “sensitive” areas is unknown, but the Assistant Secretary of State for Internal Affairs, Isabel Oneto, has strongly denied it.
Your Money or Your Love
Intrum’s European Consumer Payment Report has found that 37% of Portuguese respondents have stayed in a relationship due to a lack of cash. While this is lower than the European Union average of 42%, it is an increase since 2017. Furthermore, 36% of respondents said that finances have caused a relationship to fail — an increase on 2017, and above the EU average.
It may be no surprise, then, that Portugal has the fourth lowest marriage rate in the European Union — just 3.3 marriages per 1,000 inhabitants as of 2017. This is considerably lower than the EU average of 4.3 and higher only than Slovenia, Luxembourg, and Italy, with 3.1, 3.2, and 3.2 respectively.
Transtejo Boat-Buying Bonanza
There’s good news and bad news for those who live across the river (or just head over regularly). The good news? The government is buying 10 new catamarans, all powered by natural gas, that will cross the Tejo at twice the speed of the current ferries. Each vessel will cost around 9€ million, and the first is expected to hit the water next year, with four more in 2021 and two per year until 2024. The bad news? Your beloved ’80s-era ferries will be taken out of service.
Madonna Moves, World Keeps Turning
In news that is sure to shake the nation to its very core, Madonna is leaving Portugal. But fear not, you still have some time to snap a shot of the pop legend! While she may be leaving Ramalhete Palace on Rua das Janelas Verdes in March, she is expected to hang around in hotels a little while longer, so you may still catch her on the streets of Lisbon.
Students Organize Against Climate Complacency
Portuguese students seem to be gearing up for next month’s climate strike in a big way. Eight school-walkouts are already planned across the country — that’s twice as many as our Iberian neighbor. The school walkouts are part of a wave of environmental activism set to take place on March 15, inspired by one Swedish school student’s ongoing refusal to attend Friday classes until climate action is taken. In Portugal, the students are asking, “Why go to class if there is no future?” and have a manifesto that asks the government to prioritize the resolution of the climate crisis and fulfill the Paris Agreement and the environmental goals set by the European Union.
Laying it Bear in Northern Portugal
In an unobtrusive Facebook post, high school teacher Carlos Aguiar revealed traces of brown bear in the Barroso region of Portugal! The last bear in Portugal was thought to have been killed in 1650, but then in 1843, it turned out they were still here. So what happened? The population of Gerês killed them. Now, it seems that one has wandered down from its home in northern Spain. Unfortunately, most experts believe that Portugal no longer has the environment to support bears, with pine monocultures replacing once diverse forests that would have provided our furry friends with the wild fruit, honey, and shelter they need to survive.
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