9 thoughts on “Spanish, Portuguese workers fight austerity

  1. Thousands march against austerity in Lisbon

    On Saturday, thousands took part in anti-austerity protests across Portugal. Demonstrators in the capital, Lisbon, threw tomatoes and fireworks at the Portuguese headquarters of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Two protesters were arrested.

    Smaller demonstrations took place in around 40 other Portuguese cities. In the days before the protests, over 50,000 people used Facebook to announce their intention of attending the protest in Lisbon.

    Last week, Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced an increase in workers’ social security contributions from 11 percent to 18 percent of their monthly wage. Finance Minister Vitor Gaspar said income taxes will go up next year and public employees will lose either their Christmas or vacation bonus—roughly equivalent to a month’s income. Many pensioners will lose both.

    One protester, Magda Alves told the Associated Press, “What is being done in Portugal now was done in Greece, it is being done in Spain, and was also applied in other countries on other continents. …The result was always the same: disaster.”

    Alves added, “In Portugal, another package of recently announced government austerity measures could turn the nation’s sullen acceptance of belt-tightening into an explosion of anger similar to that seen in Greece over the past two years.”

    Portuguese oil workers strike against pay cuts and government Labour Code

    On Monday, workers at Galp Energia, the national oil and energy company of Portugal, began a three-day strike over a cut in staffing levels and draconian changes in the labour code being imposed by the government. The strike began at Portugal’s two refineries, a gas pipeline and sea terminals. Dozens of trucks queued at Lisbon’s cargo terminal, the country’s biggest, as the stoppage was underway.

    Galp said some of its operations were affected, but that “supplies of oil products are proceeding normally.”

    Galp owns the Sines refinery near Lisbon which processes 220,000 barrels per day as well as the Matosinhos refinery in Porto, refining 110,000 bpd.

    The action also spread to stevedores who downed tools on Wednesday, and is set to be supported by port administration staff who are to strike Friday.

    In another dispute, sea traffic controllers and workers at ports nationwide began a 48-hour strike, which mainly hit new ship dockings.


    Thousands of Slovak teachers strike

    Thousands of teachers took industrial action September 13, in their biggest strike in almost a decade to demand a 10 percent wage rise.

    “Officials from the Trade Union of Workers in Education and Science of Slovakia said between 80 and 90 percent of primary and high schools and 30 percent of universities shut their doors as a result of the strike, the largest since 2003”, reported Reuters.

    The news agency also pointed out that salaries of Slovak teachers are among the lowest among the countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and are also below the average wage in Slovakia itself—the second poorest country in the euro zone.

    Teachers’ pay averages €687 ($890) a month, according to second-quarter data from the statistics office. The average worker receives €793. Teachers are often forced to seek additional jobs to supplement their income.

    The government of Prime Minister Robert Fico is pledged to cut the national budget deficit to below the European Union’s threshold of 3 percent of economic output next year from a forecast of 4.6 percent this year.

    —-

    Spanish rail and subway workers strike

    Rail and subway workers struck in Spain Monday to protest the government attacks on jobs, wages and labour rights, included in plans to reform the transportation sector next year.

    The action resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of rail services and major traffic jams on roads into the capital Madrid and Barcelona. Around 300 trains run by the State rail firm Renfe were brought to a halt.

    Whilst disruption was widespread, a pre-arranged agreement between trade unions and management ensured that 50 percent of trains ran throughout the day.

    The strike coincided with rush-hour stoppages in Madrid and Barcelona by subway workers protesting pay cuts.

  2. Pingback: Greek, Portuguese workers fight austerity | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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