Article first published as Portugal Workers Observe 24-hour Strike against 2011 Austerity Budget on Technorati.
Portugal’s two main two workers’ unions’ joint call for 24 hour strike is going successful as per government and unions’ data. Rail services are paralysed from north to south of the country, with 80% of the rail services not running. Majority of the flight services are cancelled according to government sources. The Joint strike call is said to be the first in 22 years.
The unions are critical of the proposed budget cuts saying it is quite unfair that only the workers have to sacrifice. They say they oppose the government’s top most priorities are only deficit, deficit and deficit. BBC news quoted the unions as saying, all of the country’s ports are closed; air traffic controllers and ground staff of airports are observing strike; bus and ferry links are disrupted; fewer than 10% of the workforce at Volkswagen’s Auto Europa plant have turned up for work.
Unfair Media Criticism
As usual, various media of the western countries from EU to the US have written negative analyses on Portugal strikes. They continued to support austerity measures and to oppose workers’ anger towards austerity measures. They failed to acknowledge the hardships to which the workers across the Europe and the North America were subjected to, even though they are not part of the problem of debt crisis and financial crises. Such an outlook can be gauzed to the ownership of all media by a few multinational media companies.
These MNCs are beneficiaries are the austerity measures imposed by the EU countries in the name of maintaining fiscal discipline, as if the workers’ salaries and pensions are the main sources of fiscal indiscipline. These media companies never acknowledge the indiscipline of the
governments and MNCs in observing their responsibilities towards their people and consumers. They never acknowledge indecent and greedy business practices of financial conglomerates. But, they will be ready to acknowledge the people’s opposition towards workers’ strikes.
Portugal is never seen prospering even after joining Eurozone. Productivity was not increased. Euro is seen by many as unrealistic exchange rate for one of the Europe’s poorest countries Portugal. Portugal could not compete with China in its traditionally strong sectors of manufacturing of textiles and shoes.
Portugal government has proposed to cut deficit from 7.3% to 4.6% in the fiscal year 2011 in its budget for 2011. Under the EU’s Stability and Growth Pact, Eurozone members are required to keep their budget deficit under 3 percentage. The budget plans to reduce wages by 5 percent, to increase value added tax (VAT) from 21 to 23 percent. Pensions will be frozen from further increase. Portugal has recorded 10.9 percent of unemployment in third quarter of FY 2010.
The opposition party of Portugal said it would abstain from voting when budget comes up for approval in the parliament. This means nothing but an indirect support to the budget cuts. Ironically, the ruling party of Portugal is said to be socialist like Greece ruling party. These supposed-socialist parties should stop describing themselves as socialist while implementing anti-people and anti-workers economic policies.