Protests in Portugal and Catalonia met with police repression amid rising wave of strikes


Protests in Portugal and Catalonia met with police repression amid rising wave of strikes

Paul Mitchell

22 December 2018

Thousands of police were mobilised in Portugal and Catalonia to repress protests spanning the Iberian Peninsula.

The scale of the repression is dictated by rising concerns in ruling circles at a wave of industrial militancy and social discontent.

As the year ends, Portugal’s Socialist Party (PS) administration, supported by the pseudo-left Left Bloc (BE) and Communist Party (PCP), is being hit by multiple strikes against low wages and poor working conditions. Public sector workers have had their salaries frozen for the last 10 years and career progression stopped.

Labour Minister José António Vieira da Silva admitted the increase in strikes is because people have “now expectations of improvements in their working conditions” after “a long period of restrictions.” Yesterday, relatively small demonstrations, inspired by France’s Yellow Vest movement, took place in cities and towns across the country, in another indication of an upsurge in the class struggle outside the control of these parties and the unions.

Since Antonio Costa’s PS came to power in 2015, the number of strikes has doubled. This year there have been 173 strike notices in the public sector, compared to 85 in 2015. Nearly 50 strike notices have been issued for the Christmas period and New Year.

For over a year, nurses have been taking strike action and, since November, 5,000 surgeries have been postponed or cancelled. In October, 2,300 judges went on strike and action at Portuguese rail ticket offices disrupted rail traffic. Doctors and museum workers have also staged nationwide strike action in the past months.

Dockworkers in Setúbal began strikes on November 5…

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