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Portugal’s main union calls general strike on June 27

Published on 31/05/2013

Portugal's main trade union on Friday called for a general strike to protest austerity measures on June 27.

“It’s a general strike for everyone… because we must stop this policy that imperils the future of the Portuguese,” General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP) secretary general Armenio Carlos told a news conference.

“It’s not just a protest strike, but also one of proposals… with measures for job creation, to stop this (austerity) policy, for another distribution of income, for improving pensioners’ purchasing power (and) for better public services,” said Carlos, whose union is close to the Communist Party.

The more moderate UGT, tied to the main opposition Socialist Party, will say Monday whether it will take part in the strike. The two unions have joined forces in the past, but grew apart after the UGT signed on to a reform of the labour code.

Main issues include the slashing of 30,000 civil service jobs, a longer work week and higher social charges.

Friday’s call for a new strike came a day after a walkout shut down the Lisbon metro system and many businesses, also in protest over austerity measures.

Portugal’s economy, which has been propped up since May 2011 by a bailout package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund of 78 billion euros ($100 billion), is expected to contract 2.3 percent by the end of the year.

The sharp spending cuts have sparked popular discontent, and unemployment is forecast to climb to a record 18.2 percent.

Portugal has agreed with lenders to bring its public deficit to 5.5 percent of output this year, four percent in 2014 and 2.5 percent in 2015, below the EU’s ceiling of 3.0 percent.