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On The Right Track But it is in Lisbon that most attention will naturally fall. And the reality is that the daily post at most firms brings raft after raft of CVs. “Until last year it was a battle to get qualified people interested in our projects,” recalls Eduarda Ferreira, head of the organizational development department at SISCOG, a provider of transport solutions based in the capital. “Then came the crisis and we now are being approached daily by computer engineers, mathematicians and other kinds of engineers. The emphasis is on financial control and cost-cutting. We are among the few to be swimming against the stream, but generally the first cost is staff and the younger the worker the easier and cheaper he or she is to lay off. Added to that, companies now need to be self-sufficient, with no support from banks or the government.” She points out that SISCOG is due to

grow by 10-15% over the next year to 110 workers. Again, the company benefits from having an international presence, having won important tenders in the likes of the UK and Holland, but also with increasing attention turning towards Brazil, China and even the US. “Trying to enter the American market is a huge task,” she points out. “And it's the same in Brazil, even though we share the same language. But it was the same in the age of discoveries. We were a small country with small boats but we had to go somewhere.” “It's crazy,” she says with obvious sorrow. “So many workers are now looking to go to other countries: Brazil, the UK, wherever. There is less money around. Our market has shrunk.” Is there a solution for the country? After a pause comes the answer: “Quality, not quantity. But, even if you look outside Europe, you still need money to develop your product.”

One day, my friend Paulo decides to face the revolving sea and invites himself aboard a trawler with no proven sailing skills whatsoever. Hell, I know he can’t even swim! But I also knew he lived in the city long enough to have heard about the unfortunate sinking of fishermen's boats once or twice. That’s just how he is when he gets an idea in his head. In the end, nothing of this matters to him, he confessed that he never thought of danger and argues that war photography must be incredibly worse. No fear, that’s why he understood what those octopuses being trapped and lifted out from the bottom of the continental shelf were trying to say: once outside their habitat, they may arise to their certain deaths, but maybe for just a second, they can have a glimpse of some of the most amazing things man can do, absolute beauty engraved in a perfect landscape. And that’s something worthwhile. Paulo Alegria (1970) and Raul Pereira (1981) have worked together since 2008. Their work as appeared in some Portuguese publications and they hope to continue their partnership in the future, focusing on how modern life interferes and brings profound changes to ancient traditions. 19, 20, 21 Photos by Paulo Alegria "Covo's Men Series"

[W paulgi.com]

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As with all large regional operations, the 160-person company is a very significant local employer. “It's one of the reasons why we consider the welfare of the employees so carefully, not just with the salary but with health insurance and overall well-being,” Lobo says. “Happier workers make for better productivity and, in the end, happier customers.” That does not change reality, however, and the company has been forced to reduce its staff number from 200 to achieve sustainable figures, even if it is fortunate enough to have 70% of its customer-base abroad. “Most of these were voluntary redundancies,” Lobo stresses. “And the crisis was perhaps good for us. In 2009, the turnover was 20 million Euros but we had been working at full capacity for five years without stopping to think about what we could improve.”


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