The Portuguese will see biggest fall in pay next year since 1985 and the sharpest drop in the 27 countries of the EU, according to the union of technical public employees (Sindicato dos Quadros Técnicos do Estado e de Entidades com Fins Públicos).
Pay packets will shrink by 5.4% in real terms in 2012, according to the union.
Under the terms of the Euros EU/IMF 78-billion ‘bailout’, Portugal must drastically reduce its deficit, and as elsewhere on the Continent, working people are paying the price through a massive squeeze on living standards.
Public sector workers are being paid about 15% less than they were a year ago, with further austerity measures looming in the New Year.
In the private sector, as well as facing greater job insecurity, all are being asked to work an extra half hour a day for no more pay
Pay is already relatively low pay in Portugal. The average was just over 1,000 euros ($1,340) a month in 2008, according to Statistics Portugal, while the country’s minimum monthly wage is only 485 euros — a little more than a third of the minimum wage in France, according to the Federation of European Employers.
Another squeeze on living standards will come soon in the form of an increase in sales tax to 23% on many goods. Transport and energy costs are also going up.
Such austerity measures are expected to lead to the deepest recession since the country returned to democracy in 1974. The government projects the economy will contract 1.6 percent this year and 3 percent in 2012.
Unemployment is rising, standing at 12.4% in the third quarter of 2011, up from 10.9% a year earlier, according to the national body Statistics Portugal. The rate is expected to rise next year among the nation’s 10.6 million people.