Unions tell government, “either increase wages or face blistering street demos”

The ultimatum came this morning. CGTP (trades union) boss Arménio Carlos says either the government increases wages, or there’ll be blistering demonstrations on the streets.

“It’s either one or the other”, he said on Observador’s online radio station.

Carlos was being interviewed on whether this new minority government has the conditions it needs to survive a full four-year term “if labour laws are not altered”.

Employers recently met with prime minister António Costa to say why they certainly don’t want any changes in the immediate future – despite the fact that PS Socialists have defended an increase in the national minimum wage.

The issue today is really ‘by how much’.

UGT – the general workers union – is gunning for the much lower bottom line of 660 euros per month; CGTP wants 850.

Employers (under the banner of CIP, confederation of Portuguese industries) don’t want to commit to any figure, stressing the amount “must be reasonable”.

Thus Socialists are on the spot: facing the first of many hurdles expected in this new administration.

Said Arménio Carlos this morning: “The labour question is the stone in the government’s shoe. Either it alters (labour laws) or it won’t like what happens next”.

Strong words, though the union boss accepted he wasn’t optimistic.

Nonetheless, the government is riding towards a budget surplus this year, he said – so there should be no excuses.

CGTP’s goal is that for a generalised 90 euro a month increase in salaries, says Público, while reports elsewhere have highlighted António Costa’s mantra that it’s not so much labour laws that need to be addressed but the policy surrounding incomes.

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