Portugal: General Strike 24 November 2011

19 October 2011 — GREVE GERAL

Against Exploitation and Impoverishment


Jobs, Salaries, Rights, Public Services
Following the agreement signed with the IMF/EU/ECB Troika, Portugal is confronted with a new and more severe austerity programme, unprecedented since the inauguration of democracy.

In brief, it includes:

  • Illegal increase of the working time by 2,5 hours (from 40 to 42,5 hours week), implying an average salary cut of 7% and more unemployment;
  • Robbery in the Christmas allowance for all workers in 2011 and of the Holiday Allowance (1 month salary) for the Public Administration and State Sector workers – as well as for all pensioners – for the next 2 years;
  • Further cuts in salaries and pensions;
  • Violent tax raises on consumption and work incomes;
  • Cuts in unemployment benefits;
  • Elimination of the family allowance and of the social inclusion minimum allowance for thousands of households;
  • Less public holidays;
  • More privatizations (water included);
  • Closure of public services and cuts in healthcare and education.

In the context of the programme, government and employers intend to mutilate core labour rights such as the prohibition of unfair dismissals, the constitutional right to collective bargaining, redundancy pay, social protection of the unemployed and working time regulation.

We are facing a programme of true aggression against the workers, people and country. The measures presented are a calamity. If implemented, they would plunge the country even deeper in economic recession (with the government admitting that it may be around 3% in 2012), which, instead of reducing it, will only increase the debt burden.
With a deeper recession, we will enter a destructive cycle of austerity policies, added recession and higher debt, repeating what is already happening, namely in Greece, with disastrous outcomes for the workers, people and country, which are very visible today.

The new austerity package imposes economic recession and social regression, the general impoverishment of the population and more unemployment. With its dimension and grave contents – which undermine basic cornerstones of our social structures and the fundamental rights and guarantees enshrined in the Portuguese Constitution – the new government programme entails a profound civilisation regression and a violent attack on democracy.

The loss of purchasing power is having a devastating effect on the domestic market, leading to the insolvency and closure of companies and consequent job losses. The majority of the population, men and women workers, young, unemployed and pensioners are paying a heavy toll for a crisis they did not cause. Meanwhile, the larger economic and financial groups continue to accumulate billions of Euros in profits and, only in the first half of 2011, more than 10370 million Euros were taken out of the country, the highest amount ever.

The policies of successive governments led to the Portuguese economy’s loss of competitiveness, to the partial destruction of our productive fabric, to public-private partnerships that were disastrous for the state, to the ‘black hole’ of the Banco Português de Negócios, that may consume as much as 3 billion Euros, to the non channelling of credit to the productive sector, to many companies’ lack of efficiency and low productivity, to corruption, fraud, tax evasion and underground economy.

This is a policy of total’burn out’! Unless it is stopped – and with the implementation of more privatisations, namely in the water and waste capture, treatment and distribution, cuts in public transport services, as well as cuts in the welfare state, notably in social security, healthcare and education, together with higher inflation – it will bring disastrous consequences to the country’s development, to the quality of public services, while also leading to more precariousness, unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.
Portugal needs a different policy that demands the debt’s renegotiation- of deadlines, interest rates and amounts – a policy that promotes growth and jobs with rights, enhancing the productive sector and pay and pension rises, ensuring the protection and strengthening of the state social duties and public services, valuing work and dignifying the workers.

Accordingly, the CGTP-IN National Council, meeting on 18-19 October 2011, decided:

  • To salute the struggles of men and women workers from all activity sectors, and all those who participated in the big demonstrations, organised by the CGTP-IN, on October 1st., in Lisbon and Porto, calling on them to continue their action, starting in the work places, demanding a positive response to their proposals and claims;
  • To intensify men and women workers information and mobilisation for the ongoing struggles and particularly for the preparation of awareness raising, mobilization and street actions that will take place between 20 and 27 October;
  • To call on all trade union organisations and on all private and public sector workers, to develop the indispensable convergence in order to strengthen the unity of purpose, starting in the work places, in the struggle against this aggression programme, for better living and working conditions, for a Portugal with a future;
  • To call a General Strike for 24 November 2011, against exploitation and impoverishment, for a developed and sovereign Portugal, for jobs, salaries, rights, public services;
  • To organise, through its Regional Trades Councils, on the day of the General Strike, different public actions in different regions, in order to give a public expression to the general indignation against the right-wing policy and the backward employer positions and demand a change of policy which respects and values the workers and ensures the country’s economic and social development.

Lisbon, 19.10.2011

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