National public sector workers strike scheduled for November 12

With the country awash with sectors in crisis, Frente Comum – the confederation of public sector worker syndicates – has called a national walk-out for November 12.

The reason stems from the State Budget’s failure to “respond to workers’ problems” or give ‘sufficient’ salary increases.

Says the confederation, the 0.9% increase written into the budget falls far too short.

Thus along with pharmacists, nurses and doctors, public sector workers are now manifesting their displeasure as the government itself is desperately trying to hold the budget – and the country’s immediate future – together.

Announcing Frente Comum’s decision today, syndicate leader Sebastião Santana said he expects the strike to affect all sectors of public administration, in a “very strong response by workers to this government”.

“We believe it will be a major day of struggle and that it will contribute to the government changing its positions”, he added.

Pharmacists have called their first strike in 20 years for the end of October to November 2; nurses will be striking from November 3-4 and doctors have called their strike for three days from November 23 – 25 inclusive.

For all the appeasing talk that ‘it makes no sense to have a political crisis on top of a social and economic crisis’, a political crisis is what seems to be brewing.

According to Sebastião Santana the proposed budget “does not invest sufficiently in public administration while maintaining completely avoidable investments like PPPs (public private partnerships), with €1.2 billion in public transportation PPPs, a value that remains a very long distance for public administration in terms of expenditure”.

A meeting between syndicate leaders and the ministry of State modernisation and Public Administration is due on Wednesday,  but everything points to continued deadlock.

The Frente Comum is demanding a €90 pay increase for all workers, and a national minimum wage in public administration of €850.

Explain reports, the 0.9% salary increase as it is translates into a permanent annual increase in government expenditure of €225 million. This is on top of the fact that Portugal has one of the largest public debts in Europe.