Portuguese and Spanish trade unions are organising what has been described as the “first Iberian protest”. In Portugal, workers are fighting against the government’s measures that promote “poverty” and “precariousness”, leader of the trade union confederation CGTP tells PDV.
For the first time, Spain and Portugal – and possibly other European countries – will protest on the same day, in a bid to show EU leaders they disapprove of austerity. The protest on 14 November has been dubbed “day of action in Europe against austerity” and was called by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).
The protest is intended to show disapproval of the government’s targets which are promoting “poverty and precariousness” and will have a “big impact,” in Portugal, CGTP labour confederation leader Arménio Carlos told PDV.
In Portugal, the protest is being organised by the Communist-backed CGTP as a reaction to the devastating tax hike announced in the state budget for 2013.
The protest will be a reflection of the country’s indignation regarding policies that are being followed by the government, and which are “promoting poverty and precariousness,” Arménio Carlos tells PDV.
As junk-rated Portugal struggles to meet the targets agreed under its €78bn bailout, the new measures caused public outcry and protests across the country, as well as talks of a “rupture” of the government coalition.
“None of the objectives were met, there’s a budget slippage and public debt keeps increasing,” he adds.
Carlos also says the intention of the protest is to emphasise the need to renegotiate the debt and to modify the European Central Bank’s policies. “If that was achieved, Portugal’s interest payments would be €3.5bn instead of the current €7.5bn,” Carlos claims.
He also mentioned the importance of boosting employment, a more just distribution of income, creating jobs and public services.
The protest will take many forms in Portugal, including strikes and political rallies, throughout the morning and evening, Carlos said.
Other European countries, including Greece and Cyprus, could take part and the ETUC urges they show “strong opposition to the austerity measures that are dragging Europe into economic stagnation…” as stated on their official website.
Although Portugal’s other main trade union confederation, UGT, has not confirmed its presence on 14 November, Carlos insists the protests will still have a “huge impact.”
The National Council appeals for all trade unions and employees to join this superior form of protest…to open the way to an effective alternative policy for economic progress, social progress, in the interest of Portugal’s employees…” the official UGT website reads.
In Spain the protest is likely to take the form of a general strike, as the country’s main unions, UGT and CC OO proposed an official protest Friday. It will be the first time Spain holds two general strikes in one year, according to Spanish daily newspaper El País.
Various trade unions in Portugal have confirmed they will take part in the strike, including Rural Workers Union of the municipal area of Lisbon, and the Union of Tax Workers (STI).