Workers’ resistance to austerity will take centre stage in Portugal on Wednesday of next week when hundreds of thousands of union members are set to join a general strike.
The CGTP and UGT union federations have called the action—the first joint general strike in 22 years.
Portugal’s minority Socialist Party government, which is similar to the Labour Party, plans to cut public sector workers’ wages by 5 percent, freeze pensions and raise VAT from 21 to 23 percent.
Unemployed workers have already faced big cuts to their benefits and are now forced to take any job they are offered—or face their benefits being withdrawn.
The country has one of the weakest economies in Europe and there are fears that it could fall into a deep recession.
A mass strike rocked Portugal in March, and resistance has continued.
Some 100,000 workers marched through the capital, Lisbon, against the attacks on Saturday 6 November.
The general strike comes a few days after a planned protest against the Nato meeting in Lisbon (see page 16).
“The country is in a difficult situation,” said UGT secretary-general Joao Proenca. “But it’s not possible to always demand sacrifices from the same people.”