Nationwide public sector strike hits Portugal
16 February 2019
Tens of thousands of teachers, nurses, garbage collection workers and other public sector employees took part in a nationwide strike in Portugal yesterday. They are fighting against wage cuts and austerity demanded by the European Union and imposed by the Socialist Party government of Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
The 24-hour strike was called by the major public sector trade unions, which support the Socialist Party government and its austerity policies, but are maneuvering to maintain control of a growing movement among nurses and other sections of workers that is increasingly developing outside of their control.
The strike in Portugal follows a 24-hour public-sector strike in Belgium on Wednesday, a strike of 70,000 teachers and public sector workers in Berlin the same day and mass protests of Italian workers opposing austerity and unemployment in Rome over the weekend. It takes place as tens of thousands of workers in France are due to take part today in the fourteenth weekly Yellow Vest protest against social inequality.
According to the National Teachers Federation, 90 percent of teachers and other school employees took part in the strike in Portugal, closing schools across the country. Roughly the same proportion of garbage collection workers struck.
The Common Front public sector union federation reported that more than two dozen hospitals had recorded a strike participation rate of between 75 and 100 percent in their Friday night shift, including at the Sao Jose and Santa Maria hospitals in Lisbon, and at the Sao Francisco Xavier, Santo Antonio and Pedro Hispano hospitals in Oporto.
Public sector workers have not received a wage increase for ten years. Their wages have been frozen every…