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Portuguese transport workers strike over cutbacks

Published on 08/11/2011

Public transport services were severely disrupted across Portugal Tuesday as workers went on strike over a government programme of tough austerity measures to help Portugal survive the euro crisis.

Not a single subway station in Lisbon was open at 0600 GMT and no trains were scheduled to run before 1000 GMT, transport authorities said.

Bus services in Lisbon and the northern city of Porto were due to stop running for six hours from 1000 GMT.

Maritime transport services in Lisbon are also due to be affected between 1400 GMT and 1730 GMT.

Most train services across the country were also heavily disrupted with “nearly 100 percent” of staff observing the strike, according to unions. Only one service linking Lisbon to Madrid was running.

Workers are protesting a severe austerity programme which Portugal’s centre-right government has said it will implement in return for 78-billion-euro bailout it received in May from the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

Proposed cuts include the temporary suspension of 13th and 14th month salary payments for civil servants and pensioners who earn more than 1,000 euros a month.

Private sector employees will be requested to work half an hour more per day, VAT will rise, while the health and education budgets will be slashed.

Both the opposition Socialist party and the Portuguese public have voiced loud objections to the reforms.

Demonstrations by civil servants and the military are epxected to take place in Lisbon on Saturday and Portugal’s two main unions have called for a general strike on November 24.