Portugal: Public sector strike

Hundreds of thousands of workers from the public sector participated yesterday, 16 October, in a national strike called by the CGTP union federation. The action was part of a struggle over wages and work conditions. During the afternoon 50,000 workers took part in a national demonstration that flooded the streets of Lisbon and finished at the national parliament building.

The strike involved nurses, doctors, and other workers in the health sector, school staff, municipal workers, workers from the courts, government ministry employees and military industry workers.

The effects of the industrial action were deeply felt throughout the whole country, with the shutting of hundreds of schools, courts and public offices. Uncollected garbage was another graphic sign that public sector workers were in revolt.

This outrage grows daily as the right wing coalition government of the Social Democratic Party and Popular Party announces more grievous measures against workers’ rights. The administration wants to impose a limit of 2% for public sector wages, the inflation rate in the EU. However inflation in Portugal stands at 3.8%.

The government of Prime Minister Jose Manuel Durao Barroso also wants to alter the rules for retirement pensions, reducing the already low rates and imposing a 60 years age limit before workers have the right to a full pension. At present a worker is entitled to a complete pension as soon as he/she has completed 36 years of work.

As part of a more general attack on all workers, the government wants to impose a new ‘Labour Code’ that would mean the suppression of workers’ rights and wide freedom for the bosses to exploit and to oppress workers.

The next national day of action is planned for 30 October. This will entail strikes, demonstrations and rallies throughout the whole country.

Members of the CWI/CIT in Portugal are actively campaigning for this protest action. We call for a stepping up of struggle, including a national general strike.

We are also involved in a struggle to stop the right wing controlled Lisbon Council plans to privatise the public cleaning services and to dismiss about 3,000 workers.

Secretary of All Stewards Lisbon Council Assembly

Union Organiser of Second Cleaners’ Zone of Lisbon Council Workers’ Union

(Personal capacity)

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October 2002