Labour reforms agreed Wednesday by Portugal’s second-largest trade union confederation UGT signify ‘a return to feudalism’, according to the largest union confederation, CGTP, which opposed them.
Part of right-wing premier Passos Coelho’s austerity plans designed to placate the IMF and EU, the labour ‘reforms’ included a reduction of annual holidays, a deregulation of working hours, and rules making it easier for companies to fire workers.
Initially proposals included lengthening the legal working day by half an hour but these were dropped after union opposition.
Several thousand Portuguese unionists marched in Lisbon in protest and pledged more action against the government.
The rally was organized by the 750,000-strong CGTP.
“There will be no letup,” CGTP leader Manuel Carvalho da Silva told a crowd of 2,000 gathered near the parliament building. The activists marched through downtown Lisbon under banners “No to forced labor, no to firings!”
The union confederation plans a major rally in Lisbon on February 11 and has promised close scrutiny of the reforms, which it called “hellish,” when they are discussed in parliament.
The labour agreement was ‘very favourable to companies,’ said Pedro Santos Guerreiro, director of the business newspaper Jornal de Negocios.
Video of demonstration in Lisbon (Portuguese Communist Party TV)