HUNDREDS OF pensioners marched in front of the Portuguese Parliament building and the Prime Minister’s residence in Lisbon recently to demonstrate about the plight of the elderly. More than half a million pensioners in Portugal receive a subsistence pension from the state of 157 euros a month.
Brought in by buses from as far away as the Alentejo, the elderly called for a rise in pensions to around 300 euros, which they described as “fairer and more just”. After shouting in front of the Parliament building, the group marched on to Palácio de São Bento, where they handed in a petition letter to one of the Prime Minister’s aids, who said nothing could be done this year because the State Budget for 2006 had already been approved.
Maria Vilar of the National Pensioner’s Union told The Resident: “The elderly feel cheated by the government and the electoral promises made by José Sócrates, who said he would help pensioners and give them a fair deal. Many pensioners live on around 150 euros a month and can’t even afford to heat their homes in the winter.”