Public transport, health services and schools in Portugal are expected to be badly hit today in the biggest strike in years. The country’s largest union, the CGTP, is staging the 24-hour walkout over government reforms aimed at making the economy more competitive. By law, the CGTP’s 800,000 members – mainly from the public sector – are required to provide a minimum service.
Questioned yesterday, Portugal’s centre right President Cavaco Silva, would only say that going on strike was a constitutional right. The main political target of the walkout is Socialist Prime Minister, Jose Socrates. Since winning an absolute majority two years ago, his government has pushed through several reforms that have raised economic growth but also unemployment.
The CGTP’s last major strike dates back to 2002. In the last 12 months it has called several protest marches over government policy. In December 100,000 people took to the streets of the capital, Lisbon. However, the government says it will not budge from its programme.