Outrage in parliament as PM reveals pay and pension cuts 'here to stay'

“We cannot restore 2011’s salaries and pensions,” Prime Minister Passos Coelho affirmed last week.
It was yet another intense parliamentary debate on March 5, with heated political back-biting between the government and opposition parties, punctuated by angry protests from the public galleries.
Tensions peaked when Prime Minister Passos Coelho guaranteed, in response to a question from PCP leader Jerónimo de Sousa, that the government “cannot” increase salaries and pensions to match pre-Troika levels.
“Some measures are temporary and we have always said they are temporary,” he said. “But we cannot reinstate the same salary and pension levels from 2011.”
The statement generated howls of protest from all quarters. Howls that increased as he added that the government was now studying ways of permanently fixing pensions and salaries at the lower ‘adjustment period’ rates.
This prompted Left Bloc coordinator Catarina Martins to declare that “the PM’s word meant nothing”.
“During these last three years, we were always told that the cuts were temporary and only applicable during the Troika period,” she said, asking once again why salaries and pensions would not be returning to their pre-2011 levels.
“If my word means nothing, then surely you do not expect me to answer,” Passos Coelho responded.
The debate had already seriously deteriorated after PS leader António José Seguro accused the prime minister of negotiating further austerity with the Troika behind the Portuguese people’s backs, in order to not affect the upcoming European elections.
The PM did not take kindly to that at all, saying: “We are not the ones who lack courage to present proposals. It is the PS who up until today has not been able to present any.”
It wasn’t long before Left Bloc MPs began filing out of the parliamentary gallery, in protest to Passos Coelho’s lack of response to questions by Catarina Martins.
Later, the party requested a meeting to discuss the PM’s behaviour, but the request was rejected by parliamentary president Assunção Esteves who claimed Passos Coelho’s behaviour was merely “strategic”.