Portugal: Changes to Labour Laws

There is nothing to negotiate!

Their war is still going on…our resistance must too!

The Government and bosses, not satisfied with the massive attacks they have already made, under the cover of the crisis, against the living and working conditions of the majority, want to erode even further the gains still held by the working class.

After the ruinous PECs and the 2011 austerity budget, they now want to reform the Labour Code and other labor laws in order to “domesticate” the workers, making work even more “flexible”, sackings easier, and reducing compensation payments in cases of dismissal. This is happening in the country which has, according to the Labour Force survey published in August by Eurostat, already the third highest rate of precarious jobs and short-term contracts in the European Union, after Poland and Spain.

Moreover, they pledge now to connect, in employment contracts, the level of wages with productivity, thus opening the door to effective wage reductions, where, when and how it is convenient for the bosses.

These measures are part of the so-called “Agenda for Growth” being discussed by the “social partners”, and that the government wants to put in motion for 2011. Far from being a recipe for growth, all these measures are rather an “Agenda for Recession”, making the scenario of a new downturn in the economy more inevitable every day.

Even some experts from government and bosses’ organisations are saying that 2011 will see even more layoffs, more unemployment, and more austerity. Despite all that, the solution they put forward still avoids making the employers and the bankers face up to their responsibility for the crisis.

This is absolutely outrageous! There is no discussion possible!

It does not even make any sense that the trade unions accept to discuss these attacks. The workers and their unions should immediately express their complete repudiation of the intentions of the government and the bosses. What the government wants to do, on behalf of the capitalists’ European Union and the IMF, is to accelerate the theft of wages and the destruction of our existing working conditions, to bring us towards 19th century conditions.

The General Strike has shown the revolt and clear willingness to struggle and resist among broad sectors of workers and other sectors affected by the anti-social attacks of the government, against the background of the crisis of capitalism. The conditions to resist and win exist!

What we must do now, is to unite and energise that struggle, to broaden it to new layers of workers, students, young people, immigrants, pensioners, etc, and to prepare a new, and even more powerful general strike, with local demonstrations and rallies all over the country.

Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Portugal) wants to renew its challenge to the parliamentary left – the Left Bloc and the PCP (Communist Party) – to initiate a debate which, in conjunction with the trade unions -namely the CGTP- could promote the exchange of experiences and discussions in order to elaborate an alternative economic and political agenda, which stands firmly against the anti-worker PS-led government and its political partners – the President, Cavaco da Silva, the right wing PSD and CDS-PP, etc, and in favour of working class interests.

Meanwhile, we urge the creation of committees of action, elected in the workplaces and in the communities, to support the resistance that is developing in Portugal, in connection with the struggles rising throughout Europe and the world.

Socialismo Revolucionário welcomes the announced strike by the workers of Groundforce against redundancies at Faro airport, and expresses its solidarity with all the workers engaged in similar battles to preserve jobs and services. We welcome the fight of the employees of the municipality of Lisbon against the destruction of municipal public services and in defense of jobs. These and other unfolding struggles confirm what experience tells us again and again: the struggle is the only way forward!

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December 2010