CHEGA promotes new trades union of the Right
André Ventura, CHEGA leader, is forever pushing the boundaries. Image: Manuel de Almeida/ Lusa

CHEGA promotes new trades union of the Right

Solidariedade will unite teachers, healthcare workers, civil servants and security forces

CHEGA, Portugal’s ‘third political force’, and certainly one of the most outspoken, is preparing for the country’s first ‘syndical federation’ – a union of professions, bringing together teachers, healthcare workers, civil servants and police and security forces who don’t instantly identify with the ideology of existing movements.

Solidariedade – named after the historic syndicate led by pro-democratic Polish activist Lech Walesa – already has a website. Its name has been registered. CHEGA’s leader André Ventura is said to be planning the federation’s first major ‘concentration’ in January.

Explain reports, Solidariedade is based on the union of the same name, promoted by Spain’s Vox party – Vox being described in the international media as ‘hard right’, ‘far right’ and ‘radical right’, but describing itself as “national conservative”.

According to Ventura, CHEGA “will be the first party of the Right to enter directly and participate in questions to do with the labour and syndical world in Portugal, rejecting the historic approach that meant that parties of the centre-Right and Right were never connected to syndicates”.

In the party’s mindset, the issue of workers’ rights, their salaries and career prospects “is not one for the Left, or the Centre, nor the Right. It is a question of national interest”.

The plan essentially boils down to “showing it is possible to have another kind of syndicalism, unconnected to PCP communists, Bloco de Esquerda or PS Socialists”.

Solidariedade is thus designed to be a home for workers who don’t ascribe to the Marxism or Socialism associated with the nation’s main workers’ movements CGTP and UGT, but who nonetheless are part of an electorate that is ‘geographically very close’ to PCP communists; a sector of society that is deeply dissatisfied with its overall lot in life.

André Ventura has given examples of the ‘desires’ of Solidariedade’s members: they will be “to resolve the problems of economic growth, the lack of good salaries and the emigration of the country’s youth” – all issues that inflame current trades union movements, but with different (perhaps) beliefs on necessary solutions.

For the PS government, CHEGA’s news means simply there will be more ‘protests in the streets’. CGTP and UGT are already bristling with actions designed to show the force of feeling against the meagre answers provided by the 2023 State Budget – teachers, healthcare workers, police and security forces and public sector workers will now simply have a wider choice in which to manifest their grievances.

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