After the cries of “political coup” that followed President Cavaco Silva’s refusal to appoint a left wing government last month, business leaders have emerged from talks in Belém this morning saying: “We will not permit the break-up of social partnerships”.
At issue is the left wing alliance’s agreement to sanction staggered increases to the national minimum wage.
This is material that business leaders decide with politicians, Saraiva warned, and any increase above that already agreed would “provoke unemployment”.
“We cannot and will not permit this change,” he said as he emerged from what he dubbed “productive” talks with President Cavaco Silva.
“There is an attempt here to remove the importance of social partnerships and give away agreements that were established,” he added.
SIC television news prefaced its report saying the CIP was prepared to work with a new government, as long as it guaranteed stability.
But as Saraiva explained, increases to the national minimum wage would bring heavy burdens on the business community.
A salary cheque of €600 would cost employers more than €800 with social security obligations and other costs.
The maths simply wouldn’t work.
“It is not for a party A or B to define the minimum wage,” he said on a day when the nation’s best-selling tabloid warned that the first measures of a left wing executive would cost the country almost a billion euros.
Saraiva’s remarks cut little ice with union leader Arménio Carlos, however, who affirmed it was up to the government to set the country’s minimum wage and that social partners could not set themselves up as a form of blockade or pressure.