Census in Portugal reveals that cleaning is the main occupation for Brazilians in the country

Census in Portugal reveals that cleaning is the main occupation for Brazilians in the country

In the growing flow of Brazilians moving to Portugal, in the midst of a profile that has been diversifying, the most common occupation among those who settle in is that of a cleaning worker. The last edition of the Census, carried out in 2021 and whose results are in the disclosure phase, shows that 8.4% of Brazilian citizens in the European country report working in the sector.

Cleaning private homes, hotels and offices is the activity performed by most immigrants in Portugal. In cuts by nationality, it is the most common for citizens of 7 of the 15 most representative in the country, including Brazil —of those who moved from São Tomé and Príncipe, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, more than 22% work with this.

It is the wide range of vacancies and the possibility of starting in the role even without permission to legally reside in Portugal that make cleaning attract many newcomers from abroad.

That’s what Samy Nunes, 28, from Maranhão, experienced. Assistant manager of a store in the Federal District, she had never worked as a cleaner until she moved to Portugal, in 2018. “I started because that’s what appeared. work, there aren’t many options, it was that or looking for a job in restaurants — which I didn’t want, because it’s something more stressful and demanding”, she says. Her husband followed the same path.

In addition to being hired to clean a fire station in Cascais, where she stayed for 8 hours a week, the Brazilian also cleaned private homes, to increase her income.

“In some I charged €10 [R$ 56] per hour. In the end, she was able to make good money. It was tiring, but it was worth it”, says Samy, who ended up becoming a digital influencer thanks to the humorous videos sharing her routine as an immigrant cleaning lady in Portugal.

About a year ago, she started dedicating herself only to work on the internet —she has 42,000 followers on Instagram— and her airline ticket sales company. “I was never ashamed to post that I worked in cleaning. That’s where my money came from,” she says. “I’ve already suffered prejudice in Portugal for other reasons, for being Brazilian, but never for being a day laborer.”

Owner of a cleaning franchise in Braga, in the north of the country, carioca businesswoman Márcia Tibau also points out that, in general, the profession is viewed with less stigma in the European country than in Brazil. “Clients of mine have already approached me asking for jobs for relatives. Two indicated their daughters, who had finished college and were unemployed, and another their mother.”

The company, aimed at the upper-middle class segment, only has Brazilian immigrants as employees. According to Tibau, as many of these women arrived in Portugal without having any idea of ​​the regularization process, she hired a lawyer to draw up a kind of booklet with the step-by-step procedures and provide support in other migration issues.

In the evaluation of the businesswoman, the work schedules also help in the attraction potential of the activity. “For immigrants there are many vacancies in factories, which most of the time require experience and regular documentation, change the work schedule every week. The same with restaurants and stores, which also adopt shared hours [jornada dividida em dois períodos, com intervalo não remunerado entre eles].”

The Portuguese formal labor market also has difficulties for immigrants to enter, in addition to low pay in many activities —a quarter of workers receive the minimum wage, €760 (R$4,200) with the right to 13th and 14th. Thus, many foreigners, even in a regular situation and with complete higher education, prefer to work with cleaning, which offers flexibility and, depending on the pace of work, earnings higher than the minimum wage.

Entities that support immigrants point out that professional recognition in more qualified areas is one of the great challenges in Portugal. According to a 2020 report by the ILO (International Labor Organization), those who come from abroad receive a salary 29% lower than the Portuguese.

According to the Census, the resident foreign population is even a little more educated than the local population: 39.6% of migrants declare having completed secondary education, compared to 30.8% of the Portuguese. In terms of higher education, the proportions are similar, with 24.2% of foreigners and 24.1% of Portuguese having this level of education —among Brazilian immigrants, the rate is 24.6%.

In general, the profile of Brazilians residing in Portugal mirrors the social and economic disparity on the other side of the Atlantic. Although the prevalent activity is that of a cleaning worker, citizens of Brazil also stand out in luxury investment rankings in Portugal.

They are second only to the Chinese, for example, in granting the so-called gold visas, a residence permit whose main means of obtaining the purchase of at least €500,000 (R$2.8 million) in real estate. From October 2012 to August 2022, Brazilians invested more than €870 million (R$4.8 billion) in the program.

The population count by INE (National Institute of Statistics), responsible for the Census, indicates that the Brazilian community is the main one among immigrants, accounting for 36.9% of the total of 542,165 foreigners living in the country.

The data differs less in relation to the SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service) figures, which manages immigration in Portugal – they indicated, at the end of 2021, 698,536 legally resident foreigners. Participation in the Census is mandatory even for those who are in an irregular situation, but the fact that the survey was carried out mainly over the internet, depending on people accessing the INE website to fill in the data on their own, may have contributed to the difference .

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