MURPI demo outside parliament in Lisbon: MANUEL DE ALMEIDA/LUSA
MURPI demo outside parliament in Lisbon: MANUEL DE ALMEIDA/LUSA

Portugal’s pensioners take to streets to demand “more dignified life”

Present list of ‘demands’, including free medication for chronic illnesses

Hundreds of pensioners have taken to the streets of 13 towns and cities in Portugal today to demand a “more dignified life”.

The fact that so many of them live on relatively low pensions is nothing new, but  manoeuvres last year by the government, in the name of inflation, left many feeling short-changed and indignant.

Explain reports, they have a list of demands, including the extension of the 0% IVA strategy for ‘essential items’; the creation of a hamper of ‘essential goods with accessible prices’; free medication for chronic illnesses – even a network of appliances to be available for the elderly throughout the country.

A number of demands are essentially ‘wishes in a more ideal world’, unlikely to receive positive responses. But the mere fact that the elderly have come out waving banners on a hot day in 13 separate locations is indication of the difficulties this age-group is enduring.

One told SIC Notícias today: “There are people who don’t have any money left to eat” (this because of the costs they face every month with medication/ health related matters).

The protests formed under the umbrella of MURPI (the national confederation of pensioners), whose president Isabel Gomes outlined the iniquities at play since the government ‘changed the law’ because it would have meant giving pensioners ‘too high pension increases’.

“When we entered the New Year, they paid only half of what we were entitled to, and now, with the various moves we’ve made, they’ve finally given in. As of July they will pay the remaining part, but the fact is that from January to July it remains unpaid,” she explains.

What’s more is that the traditional holiday bonus has been “cut” because the reference value is relative to the month of June.

Today’s rallies took place in Aveiro, Beja, Caldas da Rainha, Coimbra, Covilhã, Évora, Grândola, Guimarães, Lisboa, Porto, Santarém, Setúbal and Viseu, although Isabel Gomes said there were 206 places with ‘interventions’, putting pensioners’ points of view.

The government “has not paid any attention to retired people”, she told reporters, thus the goal is that MURPI’s various demands and complaints will be delivered to the executive, through a draft resolution to be presented during today’s demonstrations.