November 29, 2018 by Eden Flaherty
The Week em Breve – November 29
Welcome to the Week em Breve! This week in Portugal: Worrying Wages, Lost in Transit, Metro Nightmares, Racism Revealed, Coming Home, Conspiracy Theories, and much more!
Everyone is falling over themselves to be in Portugal, which begs the question, why? Third-world wages for a skilled workforce, apparently. Eugénio Santos, owner of Colunex, says that while we get “drunk with this thing of being an attractive country,” seamstresses in China earn 30% to 40% more than in Portugal, which isn’t sustainable. Applying European wages in Portugal would make 70% of the companies disappear, according to Santos, as this is all that keeps Portugal attractive.
Asking for the Minimum
It isn’t only mattress company owners who seem concerned about wages in Portugal. Confederação do Turismo de Portugal has announced that it will not commit to a minimum wage above 600€ in the tourism sector. The president of CTP, Francisco Calheiros, says that while he encourages “collective bargaining” for higher wages, the vast difference between hospitality in popular cities and other regions — such as the interior — makes a fixed minimum unsustainable.
Mo Motors, Mo Problems
As if we didn’t already know it, Statistics Portugal has revealed that, on average, people spend more than an hour a day in transit in Lisbon and Porto! This figure is in fact 72.5 minutes in Lisbon, and the majority of people still prefer cars — despite respondents admitting to spending between 30€ and 100€ a month on fuel. However, 23.5% of respondents go by foot or bike rather than car, and public transport comes in as the third most popular option.
Driving Slow on Saturday Morning
It may not be too surprising that Lisboetas are hesitant to take public transport considering the state of some of the options. Saturday saw a small hitch on the red line when a train at the Airport station broke, forcing passengers to walk along the line to get back to the station. Credit where credit’s due, the line was back up and running in a little over an hour and the problematic machinery is now being worked on.
We Gonna Drive Down to Electric Avenue
On the plus side, while Portugal maintains its love of cars, more of them are electric than ever before. The number of electric cars sold by September was already higher than the total for 2017 and they now account for 5.4% of all cars sold — a figure that is doubling each year.
The Lowest Violent Racism in Europe
The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights has found that Portugal has the lowest rate of violence and victimization motivated by racism in the EU. Additionally, non-nationals have a higher rate of paid employment in Portugal than in other EU countries. However, it was found that 23% of young people are not studying, working, or training, which is considered an issue, and the FRA also indicated that Portugal has to work on housing issues.
Home, Let Me Go Home
When the crisis hit Portugal many people emigrated in search of new opportunities. Now, it seems as if most of them have returned, with 350,000 of the 500,000 who left between 2010 and 2015 back in the country. Furthermore, 60% of those who left returned within a year, and many of those currently out-of-country are looking to return. As part of the 2019 state budget, Portugal aims to implement a “broader plan” for those emigrants now looking to come back.
Finally, the Portuguese are confusing sociologists. A recent study found that, on the one hand, the number of Portuguese people who believe the true effects of vaccines or the “real” number of immigrants hidden from them is very low — less than half of the European averages in some cases. On the other hand, double the average — 42% — believe that we are ruled by an elite rather than a democratic process. There is obviously a very clear historical basis for this (and also some very reasonable rational) but sociologists say it presents an interesting juxtaposition in so-called conspiracy theories. Additionally, most Portuguese don’t trust governments, the military, journalists, trade unionists, or religious leaders, but they do trust scientists. Apparently, Portugal has the lowest amount of misinformation spread through fake news and subsequently seems to have missed the xenophobic wave that has washed across many other countries. Sociologists have praised Portugal, saying that political parties — both left and right — have not politicized the issue of immigration.
Think we missed an important story? Let us know in the comments!