Expatica news

General strike called in Portugal for March 22: union

Portugal’s main union CGTP on Thursday called for a general strike on March 22 to protest against the centre-right government’s labour market reforms.

The strike decision was announced by CGTP secretary general Armenio Carlos following a meeting of national union leaders, the Lusa news agency reported.

The controversial reforms are part of a plan to meet the conditions set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund for their bailout of debt-stricken Portugal.

In exchange for a loan of 78 billion euros ($103 billion) from the EU and the IMF last May, Portugal agreed to sell public companies as well as implement labour reforms such as introducing shorter holidays and more flexibility regarding workers’ hours and layoffs.

The government has reached an accord on the labour reforms with Portugal’s second major union, the UGT, and Portuguese employers, but the CGTP has refused to accept it.

Unemployment hit a new high of 14 percent in the final quarter of last year.

The Portuguese economy contracted by 1.5 percent in 2011, provisional data from the INE statistics institute said on Tuesday.