A general strike which is expected to shut down public services and disrupt transport systems throughout Portugal began to bite from midnight.
Trade Unions are protesting against the hardship inflicted by austerity measures linked to a 78 billion euro bailout.
Workers appear to have mixed reactions over what the industrial action will really achieve.
Maria said:“It’s the troika that calls the shots, the government are just doing what the troika says. We have no power whatsoever. I don’t know how this will all end.”
Henrique added:“In Greece it started with one strike, then went on to two strikes a week and it hasn’t helped them. What would really help is for us to work rather than strike.”
The rising number of homeless is testament to the impact a reduction in public spending is already having. Workers suffering deep pay cuts and mass job losses – unemployment is already up to 12.4 per cent – means charities are beginning to fill the void in helping those struggling.
The strike has been called by the country’s main unions after the centre-right government announced its 2012 draft budget. Next year there’ll be a hike in taxes across the board and even moves to introduce unpaid overtime to try to cut the deficit.