The leader of Portugal’s main CGTP trade union has accused the government of refusing dialogue and “subverting” democracy in its drive to change labour laws under an austerity bailout programme.
Manuel Carvalho da Silva forecast that the centre-right administration would “inevitably” be forced to back away from its plan to increase working hours by 30 minutes per day without additional pay.
Describing the move as a form of “forced labour”, he said the increase, set to take effect in the private sector next year, ran counter to “the kind of society we have and even of democracy.”
It also lacked “economic rationality”, Carvalho da Silva told journalists after a meeting with the head of Portugal’s employers association CIP, António Saraiva.
The CGTP leader met with President Cavaco Silva last week, after which he said the government’s announcement of changes to unemployment benefits was a unilateral move that placed “democracy at risk” and “absolutely subverted governance.”
“There’s no dialogue, there’s no negotiation”, he charged.
Carvalho da Silva said his talks with CIP’s Saraiva had aimed to find “points of convergence” between trade unions and employers on measures to energise the country’s economy at a time of intertwined austerity and recession.
Both CGTP and CIP, he added, agreed on the need for investment and financing mechanisms for cash-strapped businesses.