Some 50,000 of Portugal’s public sector workers have demonstrated over a planned wage freeze in yet another challenge to the minority government’s efforts to rein in the country’s debt.
The crowd’s anger was aimed mainly at the Prime Minister.
“We want to know whether José Socrates can govern on a wage of 500 euros a month. Why doesn’t he cut his salary and that of his ministers so they can give us a raise?” asked one demonstrator.
Civil servants came from throughout the country to join the rally in the capital, Lisbon.
But Socialist Socrates is in a difficult position. The pay freeze is one of the main spending control measures in the draft budget for 2010.
On top of that, parliament has voted to increase credits to Madeira and the Azores despite government warnings that to do so would send the wrong signals to the markets.
Portugal – along with Spain and Greece – is one of several eurozone countries facing intense pressure to get its public finances on order. Last year’s fiscal gap spiked at 9.3 percent.