November 2010, Week 5


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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
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Portside Labor <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 30 Nov 2010 00:16:16 -0500
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Portuguese unions strike over austerity plan
by Peter Wise
Financial Times, November 24, 2010

Trade unions in Portugal caused widespread disruption
with their biggest general strike in recent history. It
added to pressures on the Lisbon government ahead of a
crucial vote on austerity measures, designed to
reassure nervous financial markets .

The 24-hour stoppage on Wednesday came as the cost of
insuring Portugal's sovereign debt against default rose
to a euro-era high amid fears that the country would
have to follow Greece and Ireland in seeking an
international financial bail-out.

Portugal's communist-leaning and moderate socialist
union federations joined forces for the first time in
22 years to protest against the government's 2011
austerity budget, which will cut public sector pay by
an average of 5 per cent, freeze state pensions,
increase taxes and reduce welfare benefits.

The strike, described by union leaders as the biggest
staged in Portugal, grounded all but a handful of
flights, shut down public transport, schools and public
services and halted production at the country's largest
car plant.

As with similar protests in Greece, Ireland and Spain,
the stoppage has underlined the conflicting pressures
on peripheral eurozone governments struggling to
reassure international investors over deficit reduction
at the same time as they face mounting opposition and
social unrest at home.

Francisco Lou├ža, head of the Bloco de Esquerda, a
leftwing party supporting the strike, described it as
an "enormously successful protest" against austerity
measures "bankrupting the country and destroying the

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