LISBON STREETS were clogged on Friday as around 150,000 protesters took part in what has been called the largest demonstration since the 1974 April Revolution.
The sea of people waving red flags and papier maché heads of key government figures were demonstrating about government policies in areas such as social security, health, education, pensions as well as cuts and reforms in public administration.
Organised by Portugal’s largest general union, the CGTP, protesters gathered in Praça Duque de Saldanha and Avenida Republica in Lisbon causing traffic chaos and tailbacks from Campo Grande, Entrecampos and Fontes Pereira de Melo to João XXI and Marques de Pombal.
The groups of protesters had been bussed in from all over the country, particularly the Algarve and Alentejo regions, and marched through the streets under the slogan of United for a Change of Policies.
The protestors were concentrated for around four hours in the city centre, marching from Saldanha to Marques de Pombal, down Avenida da Liberdade to Restauradores, and ending up in front of the Portuguese parliament – Assembleia da República.
The crowd of angry public administration workers far outnumbered the last major union protest on October 12, which registered around 80,000 protestors.
Representing the protestors was the General Secretary of the CGTP, Manuel Carvalho da Silva, who gave a rousing speech in front of the parliament building at 6.30pm and promised that many more demonstrations and strikes would be organised during Portugal’s presidency of the European Union.
In his speech da Silva mentioned unemployment, the wage disparity with other EU countries, the increasing cost of living and the need for professional training.
The Secretary General of the PCP (Portuguese Communist Party) Jerónimo de Sousa, who was one of the few politicians present said: “The Prime Minister should listen and take note of their grievances because those governments that show deaf ears end up being thrown out of power.”