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Portugal: five million took part in general strike, say unions

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Portugal: five million took part in general strike, say unions


Patience with the government’s austerity plan is running thin in Portugal with banners reading ‘Enough’ and ‘Government Out’.

In their fourth general strike in two years, trade union leaders hailed the massive turnout of five million, though no official figures were released.

Workers are angry over new austerity measures being imposed.

“I’m unemployed for the second time, businesses are closed, there are no places to work,” exclaimed one protester.

Trains, buses and the metro remained idle as the strike hit public transport the hardest. Support outside the public sector was scant – as one worker put it – if they don’t work, they won’t eat.

Portugal was forced to put austerity measures in place to receive a 78 billion euros bailout from the EU and the IMF. Now into their third year of recession, the cuts are biting with unemployment reaching 18 percent.

The unions are angry about new measures that were unveiled in May which would see working hours go up from 35 to 40 a week, and 30,000 public service jobs cut. The government says it would save them 4.7 billion euros by 2015.

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