Christmas delays warning over immigration service strike

 In Aviation

As if chaos at London’s Gatwick airport over the menace of drones were not enough, British citizens have been warned that they could face long queues and disruptions because frontier and border officers at Portuguese airports are on strike.

The British government warned on Thursday that its citizens may face possible delays entering and leaving Portugal due to the strike by staff working for the Portuguese border and immigration authorities SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) on the 26, 27 and 28 December.

“If you are travelling on these dates, expect greater waiting times to get through passport control when entering and leaving Portugal” states a note published on Thursday morning by the British Government.

The strike was called by the SEF Workers Union which is protesting against what it terms a “lack of awareness” on the part of the government over the lack of staff at document processing and issuing services.

The strike is likely to affect around 400 SEF staff over an “agonising lack of staff trained in document processing services”.

A spokesman for the union, Bruno Gabriel says, “It needs to be understood that this issue is more than just grievances, this is the reality of a service with a fundamental mission: security and the identification of foreign citizens.”

“SEF is responsible for the registration and issuance of documents for foreign citizens. The security checks aim, among other things, to ascertain the existence of criminal records. A European country that aims to have average development indices cannot have citizens waiting nine months for an appointment,” states the union.