Portuguese American Journal

Labor: Portuguese workers to protest against extreme austerity policies – Update

Portuguese workers nationwide will protest again Saturday, September 29, against the latest government issued austerity rules. Large gatherings of protesters are expected to concentrate in Lisbon and Porto, Portugal’s largest cities.

The protests are being called by CGTP (Central Geral dos Trabalhadores Portugueses) the largest Portuguese union federation, representing 727,000 workers in 81 unions.

Last week, Portugal underwent a wave of anti-austerity protest marches throughout the country. Marching under the slogan, “Screw the troika! We want our lives,” an estimated 1 million protesters came out against cuts in salaries, pensions and a recent announcement to put workers’ social security contributions up from 11% to 18%.

Workers have accused the government of taking money out of their pockets and giving it to employers by proposing cutting companies’ welfare contributions to 18 percent from 23.75 percent.

Also last week, Portugal’s largest trade union federations, CGTP and UGT, convened to consider calling a general strike and other protest actions against the austerity measures announced by the government early in the month.

On Monday, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced his government was preparing a tax rise, including a personal income tax hike.

These measures are needed after the government was forced to back-track on an intended 7% hike in workers’ social security contributions that was met with huge protest rallies across the country and dissidence within the coalition government.

Asked whether VAT would also go up or see changes to the different brackets, Passos Coelho said there were no such plans at the moment.

Portugal’s unemployment is at a record 15.7 percent. The nation’s economy will contract 3 percent this year and 1 percent in 2013.

 paj.cm/lusa

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General Information on Portugal Official Name: Portuguese Republic – Government Type: Parliamentary democracy – Population: 10,642,836 – Area: 92,391 sq. km., including the Azores and Madeira Islands; slightly smaller than Indiana – Languages: Portuguese – Literacy: Total population: 93.3%; Male: 95.5%; Female: 91.3% – Year of Independence: 1143