Friday, March 23, 2012

'Strike brings Portuguese services to a halt' (Al Jazeera)

A 24-hour union strike against austerity measures has brought public services to a stand-still in Portugal.

Thursday's strike, the second in four months, is in protest against the broad cost-cutting measures agreed to by the government of President Aníbal Cavaco Silva in return for an international bailout of the recession-hit economy.

"The participation rate is strong in the public transport sector, among garbage collectors and the health sector,"  Armenio Carlos, secretary general of the Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP), the group organising the strike, told reporters on Thursday.

The union is opposed to government austerity measures such as the elimination of public employees' Christmas and vacation bonuses - each roughly equivalent to a month's pay - in an effort to rein in the public deficit.

Public transportation in the capital, Lisbon, and Oporto - Portugal's second-largest city - were closed, forcing tens of thousands of commuters to find an alternative way to get to work or school. The majority of ports, including those in Lisbon and Viana do Castelo in the north, were also closed.

... full story and video at Al Jazeera.

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