Portugal’s new left-wing government is seeking to reinstate hundreds of civil servants who had been put on leave of absence under the former conservative leaders, Labour Minister Jose Antonio Vieira da Silva said Sunday.
It was the latest in a string of pledges by the government of Prime Minister Antonio Costa, who will have to pull off a tricky balancing act, satisfying both Brussels and his allies on the radical left.
Other planned measures include raising the minimum wage, reducing the 40-hour work week to 35 hours and lifting a freeze on pensions.
“We will do all we can to reintegrate” civil servants affected by the previous government’s move and to “repair the damage” they and the public sector had suffered under austerity cuts, the new labour minister told Antena 1 radio and Diario Economico daily.
“Some 500 to 600 civil servants” will be put at the disposal of the social security administration, he said, without specifying how many would actually be given jobs.
At the end of September, some 845 of Portugal’s once untouchable civil servants had no post, and therefore received only 40 to 60 percent of their original salaries, under an austerity measure brought in by former premier Pedro Passos Coelho’s government.
Portugal secured a massive international bailout deal in 2011 that saved it from defaulting. In return, the country introduced a string of austerity measures that sparked huge discontent.
In four years, more than 78,000 public sector jobs were cut — more than 10 percent of a total of 650,000.