‘Everyone in Lisbon against the theft of wages, pensions and the reforms!”
This is the slogan of major protests to be held today in the Portuguese capital that have been organised by the CGTP union.
Together with the country’s largest trade union confederation there will be activists behind the one million strong rallies on September 15, the March 12 Movement and the Movement of Unemployed, united against the policies of the Government and the Troika.
The general secretary of the CGTP, Arménio Carlos, is enthused by the participation of diverse platforms.
‘We value unity in action and we would urge everyone to participate. This event seeks to give space to all those who are against the policies of the right and the Troika and requiring a new direction for the country. All are welcome and are welcomed with open arms,’ he says.
Over 10,000 local union reps are expected to attend the demonstration, as well as two to three thousand of the more senior officials of the CGTP, alongside workers from all sectors and pensioners.
They will be joined by a multitude self-organised via Facebook and other social media whose interest in the event can be gauged by an unprecedented 400,000 weekly visits to the union’s website in the run up to today’s rallies and marches.
John Labrincha, March 12 Movement member, believes that there’s going to be ‘a lot of people.’
‘I have received messages from people outside Lisbon who were considering taking CGTP buses. People who would normally would not come, did not come on 15 September, but who are coming now,’ he says.
John Campbell, one of the activists promoting attendance today says that the movement believes that ‘the people have given a unanimous vote of no confidence to the Government.’
Anna Brindle, of the Movement of the Unemployment, which encouraged attendance by distributing ten thousand flyers, says: ‘We are fighting for the reduction in working hours without wage reductions and want the return of all rights and subsidies that have been unfairly cut.’
The movement ‘Awake’, although ignorant of the CGTP’s demands, will also be there too and is expecting a big turnout.
The September 15 demonstrations were undoubtedly swollen to an unprecedented one million strong protest by the Government’s hugely controversial plans to hike social security contributions for workers while cutting them for employers. In the wake of such huge opposition they have since been dropped.
As yet nothing has been agreed on what will replace these measures, though.
Arménio Carlos sees growing ‘discontent, indignation and revolt among the people’.
‘A year ago the Government assumed that solving the problems of the country meant implementing the Troika’s Memorandum of Understanding. Workers in the public and private sector lost more than ten percent of purchasing power. Austerity upon austerity is leading to the impoverishment of the country. This is the right time to respond.’