The Algarve’s hotel association claims there are vacancies for 5,000 people in the booming sector, but that low wages are dissuading candidates from applying.
The unions involved are campaigning for better wages and conditions for existing and new workers but it all seems to comes down to money.
An additional problem is the seasonality of the sector which needs many more staff during the busy summer months, especially this year with record breaking occupancy figures.
The government is even offering a €200-a-month 'mobility support payment' to qualifying recruits heading south to work in the Algarve but with the national official unemployment rate for June down to 9.2%, and lower still in the Algarve, it has turned into a employees’ market.
The Employment and Vocational Training Institute is launching a national campaign to recruit candidates to work in the Algarve but to fill the job vacancies, the president of the Association of Hotels and Tourist Enterprises of the Algarve (AHETA), Elidérico Viegas, says at least 5,000 people are needed and they simply are not responding.
The problem is obvious, according to the president of the Hotel and Tourism Trade Union of the Algarve, Tiago Jacinto, "Why are working conditions not improved and salaries, frozen since 2009, not updated?"
Complaints have been sent to the Authority for Working Conditions, which the union accuses of failure.
"The shortage of staff is forcing workers to work twice as much, or more, while earning the same salary. On average, salaries in the sector are around €600 per month," said Tiago Jacinto, highlighting the reality of paying rent, electricity, water and food from a monthly salary designed for those involved in the slave labour market.