The Portuguese press has digested the further spending cuts announced yesterday by the government, and for some, playing on the prime minister’s name, Passos, it’s a “step towards misery”.
The measures include longer working weeks and lives for public sector workers, voluntary redundancy for 5% of them, a reduction in overtime pay, and less spending on pensions and healthcare.
“They extend the retirement age, but when we retire there won’t be any money for retirement for anybody, that’s the conclusion we have reached. Today we are paying social security for pensions but if it was my choice, I wouldn’t bother paying for social security because I know that from now on – and for dozens of years – there won’t be any money for retirement, “ said fruit stand owner Anabela Suarez.
It is a bleak view of the future, but the government believes it has to save an extra nearly five billion euros right now.
“I’m against the measures, I think we need to save money but they should prosecute those who stole in the past. They know who they are, they’re still around, but they won’t be affected. Those who will are from the middle and other classes because it’s a chain reaction,” said fishmonger Rosa Cunha.
The prime minister argues the cuts are needed to show Portugal’s commitment to its European partners.
“The financial assistance program alone already requires a large political and social consensus. But the value of consensus is even more important when what is at stake is our participation in the euro and respecting its obligations,” said Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
Portugal is now in its third year of recession, and it is deeper than expected, making this year’s May Day marches a chance for people to express their growing anger.