Demand higher salaries/pensions; extra support measures for cash-strapped citizens
Thousands responded today to the CGTP trade union call for a mass demo in Lisbon to protest about the cost of living crisis.
As European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde calls on governments to reduce measures of financial support to families and businesses, today’s rallying cry was for the government to dig much deeper into the public purse, and come up with more in the way of support for citizens who simply cannot make ends meet.
Leading the lines of banner waving demonstrators, blowing whistles and chanting slogans are public sector workers from municipalities, education, health, as well as employees from industry, commerce, hotel, catering and other services.
The motto of the day is “All to Lisbon! (For) a general increase in salaries and pensions – National Emergency”.
As we write, the event is still very much ongoing, with two lines – made up of different sectors – snaking their way from separate locations to converge in the city centre, where CGTP general secretary Isabel Camarinha will be just one of the many speakers.
In the context of similar protests going on in other countries, politicians everywhere are getting a very sharp message from the public.
That said, one of the regular ‘opinion polls’ conducted by tabloid Correio da Manhã today has shown that much as people are thoroughly fed-up with Portugal’s political leaders, the majority would still buy a used car from the prime minister, rather than buy one from leader of the Opposition Luís Montenegro. This is clearly not what Mr Montenegro would have expected after such lacklustre performance within the executive.
Taking part in the march today are various MPs and party leaders.
Catarina Martins, the outgoing leader of Bloco de Esquerda, told the cameras: “What the government promised was that salaries would increase, which hasn’t happened. The government said they had an agreement with the private sector that would guarantee increases to the private sector. They said more: that they would guarantee the recuperation of salaries. But the opposite is happening. People have increasingly less money to pay their bills”.
Martins accused the government of “doing almost nothing (…) It’s all announcements and powerpoint presentations. We never see anything!”
On the opposite side of the political spectrum, CHEGA also has representatives among the crows, insisting that today is not about the left or right: it is about everybody being affected, “everybody suffering”.