Public sector syndicates threaten strikes and protests

Fury increases over government’s proposed State Budget

Public sector workers are threatening strikes and protests unless the government rethinks salaries as outlined in this year’s State Budget.

Finance minister Fernando Medina has already insisted he won’t be increasing public sector pay packets beyond the 0.9% envisaged, albeit inflation is currently running at 5.3% – and the State Budget has forecast 4%.

As all critics have pointed out, public sector workers’ ‘purchasing power’ has been steadily dropping for more than a decade.

Syndicates have been pushing for a €90 increase across the board since last year, thus this ‘re-jigged budget’ to address the context of rising fuel prices and the war in Ukraine has come as a slap-in-the-face.

Sebastião Santana, coordinator of the Frente Comum – affiliated with the CGTP, general confederation of Portuguese workers, has said “Public sector workers will not accept this budget which does not answer the (request for) a general increase of €90, particularly in the face of galloping inflation which will absorb all the increases outlined by the government”.

Minister for the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva is due to meet with syndicate leaders next Wednesday – the same day Frente Comum has called for a demonstration outside the prime minister’s official residence in São Bento as the syndicate presents its ‘caderno reivindicativo’ (set of requirements).

According to Santana, workers are ready for strike action, and protests.

Other syndicate leaders have ‘lamented’ the fact that the government did not sit down with them before drawing up this revised budget.

Helena Rodrigues of STE (the technical staff union) stressed that the last government “guaranteed that if inflation increased, salaries would be safeguarded so as not to lose purchasing power”.