Published on
Common Dreams

Portuguese Mobilize in General Strike to Fight Austerity

Policies "punish the country" and "violate the people" say unions

Common Dreams staff

Public transportation systems came to a halt across Portugal on Thursday as labor unions and other austerity opponents took to the streets to protest government economic policies that they say are killing working people and social cohesion.

After years of cuts to public programs and worker benefits in the name of solving the economic crisis that has gripped Europe since 2008, the nation's largest labor unions say it is well past time for a new approach and that austerity has proved not only ineffective, but deeply destructive.

"These austerity policies punish the country, violate the people, penalise workers and pensioners, so the strike will be a cry of resistance to these policies," said Carlos Silva, leader of the 500,000 member UGT union.

Labor's argument, as Agence France-Presse reports, was also echoed by business leaders.

"The austerity plan for Portugal was a short-term response, applied as if it were the only one possible, but today given the results, no-one can be so irresponsible as to defend it, or even worse pursue it," said the nation's four main employer confederations in a joint statement.

And the English language Portugal News reports:

The sharpening of austerity - with billions of euros in further spending cuts planned to meet the targets set by Portugal's euro-zone bailout - is among reasons cited by unions for staging the strike, which has been called by both the country's largest federations.


If you think a better world is possible, support our people-powered media model today

The corporate media puts the interests of the 1% ahead of all of us. That's wrong. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

If you believe the survival of independent media is vital to a healthy democracy, please step forward with a donation to nonprofit Common Dreams today:

They are also angry at labour reforms that they say represent an attack on workers' rights.

As well as picketing at workplaces in district capitals, there are to be protests outside the Ministry of Finance and marches from downtown Lisbon to parliament.

Not only trade unions but independent groups campaigning against austerity are staging events calling for the government to resign. Public transport is expected to be among the worst affected sectors, with national and suburban rail services, and the Lisbon and Porto metro systems winding down before midnight on Wednesday.



This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news outlet. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Won't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Share This Article

More in: