Sunday, March 13, 2011

Massive rallies at Portugal for the right to work

Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese citizens (200,000 according to some sources) have more or less spontaneously gathered to rally at Lisbon and other Portuguese cities yesterday against the new austerity measures imposed by Brussels, the IMF and their local vassal, conservative PM Socrates.

The most interesting feature of these protests are that they are happening outside what is the established traditional class opposition like unions and left-wing parties, but has been called by informal groups with some projection in the Internet, notably one called Geração À Rasca, Precarious Generation in English (a transparent reference to the lack of job security we face these days).

According to an online manifesto,  the protesters demand the application of Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that:

  1. Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
  4. Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
They claim therefore:
  • the right to employment
  • the right to education
  • the improvement of job conditions and end of precariety
  • the recognition of qualifications, competence and experience by means of dignified contracts and salaries 
200,000 people in a small country like Portugal with no other appeal that some Internet and street agitation is, I understand, a massive success which should put the oligarchs very much in defensive mode.

As one of the callers, humorist Jel, said in an interview, everything worth it has been achieved on the streets. I'd add, if they have to cut, they may cut the ties of the bourgeois oligarchs and their political minions, the size of the guns of the tanks, the payments of debt to fat people overseas, etc. But the rights of the workers must not be touched, the opposite is true: they must be advanced, though (of course) that will only happen if the workers, the citizens, go out to the streets and protest.

Thumbs up for the Portuguese People.

More from the organizers (in Portuguese) at: Geração À Rasca.

More in English at: Euronews (brief video), Global Voices Online, AllVoices...

Update: video of discourses at the demo of Lisbon (from

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