Portuguese workers’ rights attacked by European Union

This video is called Portugal stages mass strike in protest of government spending cuts.

By Paul Mitchell:

Portugal enforces labour reforms but more demanded

6 August 2012

On August 1, Portugal’s new labour reforms came into force.

The reforms have been dictated virtually word for word by officials from the troika—the European Union (EU), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank (ECB). The acceptance of these reforms is a condition for receiving a further portion of the €78 billion bailout agreed last year.

The reforms are aimed at increasing worker “flexibility”, fundamentally affecting working hours, dismissals and redundancy payments. They are far from being the last such reforms.

The reforms include the introduction of an “hours bank”, giving employers the right to increase the working day by up to two hours and slashing or eliminating overtime payments. The right to a 15 minute break for every hour of overtime worked is eliminated.

The reforms reduce the number of paid holidays from 25 to 22 working days. Four public holidays have been abolished. If companies decide to shut down on a Monday or Friday because a public holiday falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, the day will be deducted from the total annual holiday period. The tradition of giving workers up to three extra holidays if they are not absent the previous year has been done away with.

In future, companies will only have to pay 20 instead of 30 days’ pay for each full year of service if they make workers redundant. The total amount of compensation must not exceed 12 times the basic monthly pay.

Workers can be sacked more easily, with the employer’s previous obligation to find the displaced worker equivalent alternative employment done away with. Layoffs “where there is a crisis in the business” are made easier.

Slovenia is among the Eastern European countries hardest hit by the financial crisis: here.

Although the country’s total debt is relatively low at 47 percent of GDP, the crisis gripping Slovenia’s three largest banks threatens to drag the country into the abyss: here.

10 thoughts on “Portuguese workers’ rights attacked by European Union

  1. we used to know that if there is a struggle between workers and employers , then all laws favors the side of the workers, but what we see these days, is that if you got money, then you can to whatever you want


    • Hi, indeed there has been shift in many countries since, eg, the days of Margaret Thatcher and the fall of the Soviet Union.

      One of the reasons of that shift, I think, is that before the fall of the Soviet Union, governments and bosses often made concessions to workers. Because they were afraid that if there would not be any pro-worker reforms, then workers might become communist and start a revolution like in 1917 in Russia. In this way, the Soviet Union acted as a brake on anti-worker policies in non-Soviet bloc countries (which does not mean that the Soviet Union was perfect and that there never was anything wrong with it).


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  4. Portuguese hotel workers strike

    Staff at the Navegadores hotel in Monte Gordo announced their intention of going on strike from August 13 against poorly paid overtime and unspecified hours of working on public holidays.

    According to a statement issued by the Algarve Hotels Union, the employees at the hotel have not yet received their salaries for the months of June or July.

    “With this strike, staff at the hotel aim to contest the recently revised labour legislation, as they say it represents ‘violence and brutality’ by reducing the amount paid for overtime and allowing for free labour during public holidays,” reported the Portugal News.

    The new legislation facilitates sacking employees, eliminating public holidays, reducing paid holidays and deregulating workers’ timetables by annulling or suspending previous agreements.

    The staff have called for all workers on contract to be awarded a permanent contract and for qualified personnel to be hired to fill in the gaps in departments with shortages.



  5. Hotel employees in Portugal strike over labour legislation

    On August 15 staff employed at hotels, resorts and restaurants in the Algarve, Portugal began a period of strikes. Workers are protesting changes made by the government to the national Labour Code, implemented on August 1 by the government of President Anibal Cavaco Silva.

    As a result, hotel industry workers must now work overtime and provide labour on public holidays without receiving higher pay levels.

    Tiago Jacinto, coordinator for the Workers Union of Hospitality Industry in the Algarve, said, “The measures now implemented by the Government will have a very negative impact, particularly with regard to overtime, which reduces rates and compensatory time off by half.”

    Elidérico Viegas, president of the Algarve Hotels and Resorts Association, told the Algarve Resident that the government’s legislation would be “overall very positive, but could have been more ambitious.”

    He commented that the trade unions had been fully complicit in the implementation of the Labour Code legislation, stating, “These new measures were agreed by all the social partners and the government, except one Union—CGTP—having been the subject of a large consensus.”



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