Yesterday, at the end of a national meeting of 500 shop stewards and leaders of the Public Sector Unions Front, (held near the Parliament and the Prime Minister’s official house in Lisbon) police attacked the trade unionists and arrested two of them.
José Manuel Marques, from Executive Commission of STAL (National Union of Municipal Workers), and Marco Rosa, from SPZS (South Zone Teacher Union) and from the Secretariat of FRENPROF (Federation of Teachers Unions) was arrested and taken to Calvário police station.
Marco was handcuffed during the almost three hours that the police held the two trade unionists.
They are been charged with ‘disobedience’ (Marques) and ‘aggression to a police officer’ (Rosa) and will be present at court today at 10.am
The public sector unions’ meeting was called against the backcloth of increased anger against the government attacks on working-class people, both in public as well in private sector.
In the public sector, wage cuts, wage freezes, tax increases, cuts in benefits – together with sharp rises in food prices, basic needs and commodities – have caused this underlying anger to spread like a forest fire.
The action of the police, which in Portugal’s recent history is seen as unusual, reflects the political authoritarianism of the so-called Partido Socialista and its leader, José Sócrates.
The ruling class knows that sooner or later the working class will build resistance and fight-back against these attacks on living standards. So they are trying to intimidate workers to accept the attacks and prevent them engaging in struggle. But workers know that struggle is the only way forward.
During the three hours of Marques’s and Rosa’s detention protesters kept a defiant vigil in front of the Prime Minister’s house, demanding the release of our two comrades.
The protest brought together trade unionists from the public and private sectors, Members of Parliament from PCP and Left Bloc and other social activists.
– Stop the harassment of union members
– Drop all charges on our comrades
– An independent inquiry into the police action