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Portuguese protest deep austerity cuts

Portuguese protest deep austerity cuts
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In Portugal, thousands of people took to the streets of Lisbon and Porto on Saturday to denounce falling living standards amid deep government austerity measures.

The cuts were negotiated as part of a 78 billion euro bailout agreed earlier this year.

The government warned this week that the Portuguese economy could contract by more than the anticipated 2.5 per cent of GDP next year.

Unions say ordinary citizens are being hit the hardest. Workers voted for a week of general strikes later in the month.

“I’m here to fight for the rights of pensioners, who have no money to buy medicine or for the co-payment fee for the doctor,” said one retired man who joined the protest in Porto.

Teachers also bemoaned the spending cuts: “There are fewer teachers being hired and more children to care for. Our working conditions are getting worse,” said school worker Cristina.

Unions demanded that officials keep to a promise by the last administration to increase the minimum wage from 475 to 500 euros a month.

But Portugal’s new right of centre government has since warned the austerity is set to get worse.