By the new year, Cristiana Costa had three jobs. The contract ended in one. In the other cases, detention overrode the necessity of their work. This Friday he received a letter from the Institute for Employment and Vocational Training saying he was entitled to unemployment benefits.
In his analysis of the consequences of the pandemic, the sociologist Renato do Carmo usually speaks of the immediate unemployed. These are people with fixed-term or non-contractual contracts, independent workers, interns, in short, precarious workers – mostly young and less skilled. Many without social protection, forcing the country to find specific answers.
Cristiana fits this profile. On March 18, Portugal was still learning to deal with the SARS-Cov2 virus, the President of the Republic declared a state of emergency. Since the land was limited, the girl was fired from work in the school cafeteria – “There were no children for lunch”. And help out with coffee.
You are used to this blinking. Since 2018, every school year signs a new contract with the service provider, which provides for the serving of lunch in a preschool and a school of the 1st cycle. Children go on vacation, she goes to unemployment.
Cristiana Costa at home Rui Oliveira
Despite the discouraging news he heard on television every day, he signed up for the job center. A week later, they asked her to reinforce the checkout team in a supermarket, as had happened at other times.
Crises can take many forms. The economist Eugénio Rosa explains that many draw a V – a break is followed by recovery. This, considered to be the largest and most sudden in recent history, describes a form closer to a W: pause, rest, new pause, new rest. The first break was abrupt in March, April, part of May. The first rebound – with job creation since August – ended in December.
Data on underutilized workers – a category where INE includes unemployed part-time workers who want to work more hours and inactive people who want to work – helps understand this story. Between March and May this group rose from 12.4% to 14.6%. In December, the preliminary estimate published by INE was 13.4%.
Cristiana lived this zigzag. In May, when the country reopened, they called again to help with coffee. The supermarket chain wanted to sign a new three-month contract to bolster service over the summer and another to bolster it for Christmas. He resumed classroom teaching and resumed his place in the school.
Despite the pandemic crisis, the 23-year-old girl paced tirelessly up and down. “I never told you, but it’s too much,” comments mother Olinda, who comes from the living room to the dining room. “It’s not because I’m a mother, but having a daughter like that tastes good. He dedicates himself and goes on. If it were me, I would give up. “
The mother’s experience was different. “Things went very smoothly for me.” Learned to sew. He worked as a punching machine in shoe factories. And now, who is 50 years old and in poor health, all he wants is a disability pension. “I didn’t understand what she was doing.”
Cristiana Costa at the Rui Oliveira window
Nothing is done on foot from the family home in Macieira da Lixa in the municipality of Amarante. His parents lent him a car. The school hours are always the same. Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 2.30 p.m. The schedule changes in the supermarket. It started at 3 p.m. for a three, four or five hour shift. It was less safe in the café. “They only call when they have to.”
From information technology to appearance
Cristiana did not prepare for that. He took a professional computer course using a web application. He learned to code, create websites, and do other things that enabled him to imagine working in a company – in an office, workshop, or laboratory. “On the 12th I scratched a bit. I thought I couldn’t go to university. “
In 2016 she completed an internship in a shop. She was kept in stock, visited at the counter and alerted. CVs sent. “I wanted to work in my field. Nobody answered. I got discouraged. “It opened up to everything that appeared. And what appeared was a temporary spot in a supermarket checkout.
At 18/19 he was completing a series of contracts at the supermarket for three months (which he would return to at age 20/21 and now at 22/23 to complete a new set of contracts). When she was 20, a friend spoke to her at the company that offers catering services. He applied. And he started signing a contract for each term and serving meals.
Until the last day of the year, I rode this jellyfish. The contract with the supermarket ended on December 31st. On January 22, classes were suspended until February 5, and Cristiana was released immediately. Since it was impossible to know when the on-site training would start again, he registered with the job center. He has had subsidies since he was in the supermarket for nine months.
The state acts as a dike
According to the National Statistics Institute (INE), the unemployment rate in December was 6.5%. It would be different if many new unemployed people were not classified as inactive. And if it weren’t for the public support for business and employment, with an emphasis on simplified layoffs.
“The state pays in two ways,” explains the economist Eugénio Rosa. By being exempted from social security contributions and by funding the layoff. “The problem is that there will be limits to this. Some companies are starting to break free from workers. If you are a more skilled worker, the company is interested in a commitment. If not, you can understand that you can easily replace it. “
The sociologist Renato do Carmo uses the dike metaphor, a hydraulic engineering work that holds parts of the dry land with running water. Business and employment support has enabled many companies to “buy time, ensure adaptability and withstand the effects of the crisis”. “The question that arises right now is what could happen to the effects of this second restriction,” he says.
It seems obvious that “for some companies – that would be able to resist and adapt, some would even recover a little as they started to have an in-market demand – it will be difficult to apply this second constraint bear”. “We may have bankruptcies or downsizing, which means an increase in unemployment, already in the profile of people with a bond,” he continues. “I’m not saying that there was no unemployment among these people before, but the first impact was more on precarious work.”
The sociologist Elísio Estanque reads the same way. “It was already known that the impact on the economy would be devastating, that the pandemic would drive many micro and small businesses into bankruptcy,” he says. Complaints are increasing, especially in culture, restaurants and hotels.
Well, stresses Estanque, “it all depends on how long the outbreak will last”. With vaccination, it is expected that “in half a dozen months the economy will begin its rehabilitation”. It just needs an injection of money as soon as possible. There is a recovery and resilience plan with a forecast of 12.9 billion euros to be applied in three main areas: resilience, digital transition and climate change. The Community Support Framework – PT2030 should contain an additional 29.8 billion euros, which will be spread across several programs. “The subject has a lot to do with time,” confirms Renato do Carmo. “How long will it take for these funds to come and what impact will they have on the economy? I’m afraid the economy is getting more and more fragile in the meantime. “Employee support is running out.
Cristina with her mother and sister in the background Rui Oliveira
As can be seen on the social security portal, 241,324 people received unemployment benefits in December. The supplementary budget for 2020 provided for an extension of the unemployment benefit until the end of the year, but the budget for 2021 did not secure the fate of those affected. In January alone, 22,000 people who received this benefit were left without assistance. Families are getting more and more desperate.
Desire for stability
Cristiana is at the beginning of her life. There is no fee. It has a family in the back. She lives with her parents and sister Marina, 15, in a spacious and comfortable home. The father works in a wine company. The sister dedicates herself to her studies in order to enter higher education in a few years and to study business administration. The mother is entertained by making sewing preparations in the studio she set up on the first floor. And Cristiana helps around the house. He hopes that as soon as the country opens, they will be called back to school and coffee.
Don’t like what you do The problem is the contractual regime. What plans can you make if you have temporary part-time contracts? “I can’t manage my life. I always wait. If it did work, it would be safer. He stopped walking up and down. It was in one place. If it came into effect, I could already credit a car and later a house. “
Who knows what the future holds? The pandemic has already accelerated digitization, flexibility and precariousness. “All scenarios point to a profound change in the economic structure,” says Estanque. “It is likely that this will lead to a model of working relationships in which flexibility becomes greater. The legal framework for work needs to be readjusted, but we must not lose sight of security. Safety needs to be addressed through legislation and enforcement. And public investment must take these aspects into account so as not to allow widespread uncertainty in all economic sectors. “
There is talk of the transition to the digital everywhere. The Ministry of Economic Affairs has drawn up an action plan. The second phase of applications for the UPSkill program for unemployed people with secondary or higher education who want to qualify to work with digital technologies is almost open. Will Cristiana finally have the opportunity to work in the field she has chosen? It’s not to be with your arms crossed. “I’ve already signed up for the census!”