Socialist Worker

Portugal's pensions battle is under way

by Carlos Santos, Portuguese Left Bloc activist
Issue No. 1961

A PUBLIC sector general strike took place in Portugal on 15 July. The strike followed a large demonstration in July, and strikes by teachers, nurses and other groups of workers.

The general strike was a success, although the trade union federation could have coordinated the public sector workers more effectively.

The Socialist Party government, like the previous right wing one, has unleashed neo-liberal attacks on public sector workers.

It claims these workers are privileged, and has presented its cuts in public spending as the only way of sustaining the pensions system.

In fact prime minister José Socrates wants to reduce the rights of those in the public sector to the low standards of the private sector.

He has proposed a new retirement age, cuts in sick pay and a wage freeze.

The government’s anti-social reforms are based on the attempt to divide and rule workers.

The fight by public servants will continue following the general strike. But to win it needs to broaden out and propose alternatives to the government’s measures.

There’s a long way to go in the reinvention of trade union struggle. Meanwhile, the fight is likely to widen and deepen as the government prepares new attacks on pensions.

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Sat 30 Jul 2005, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1961
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