Portugal’s public sector workers strike over pay amid inflation

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The cost-of-living strike comes a week before the final vote on the 2023 budget.

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Thousands of Portuguese doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants have gone on strike demanding higher wages amid runaway inflation, challenging the majority socialist government a week before the final vote on the 2023 budget.

Across the country, many schools and courts were closed on Friday, hospital appointments and surgeries were canceled and trash left uncollected.

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Many European countries are facing labor conflicts due to high energy prices and the rising cost of living.

The Common Front of the Union of Civil Servants represents almost half of Portugal’s 730,000 civil servants and has declared a one-day strike.

“All workers have already lost a month’s wages this year due to inflation,” union coordinator Sebastiao Santana told reporters. “We are getting poorer.”

Consumer prices

In 2022, the wages of civil servants rose by 0.9%, but consumer prices rose by more than 10% year-on-year in October, the fastest pace in more than 30 years.

“We are not on strike because we like to lose a day’s wages, we are on strike because the government has not responded to the issues that we presented, mainly the need to compensate for the high cost of living due to inflation,” Santana said.

The union is demanding a 10 percent wage increase and a minimum of 100 euros ($103.67) a month by 2023, while the government has proposed a 3.6 percent increase in average wages. The government forecasts inflation at 4 percent next year.

In October, the government, key business associations and the country’s second-largest trade union, GUT, reached an agreement to raise the wages of private sector workers by 5.1 percent in 2023.

Workers at the Volkswagen Autoeuropa car plant have begun a second day of partial strike demanding an emergency pay rise. The strike of one of Portugal’s leading exporters covers the first two hours of each of the four shifts.

Credit: www.aljazeera.com /

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