Strike against austerity paralyzes Portugal
Updated: 2011-11-25 14:00
LISBON - Portuguese workers on Thursday staged a general strike against the government's expanded austerity measures in a tough 2012 budget aimed at helping the country pay its debt.
Demonstrators shout slogans at policemen during a protest at the Portuguese parliament in Lisbon Nov 24, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
Public transport was paralyzed, and most flights departing from Lisbon and Porto were grounded. Lisbon's subway closed for 24 hours, whereas the national railway system was also affected.
Postal services, hospitals and schools as well as others public services across the nation joined the protest.
The government originally announced that only some three percent of civil servants did not show up in their workplaces.
But according to Portuguese trade unions, more than 90 percent of the workers participated in the strike.
After a government meeting, parliamentary affairs minister Miguel Relvas, a member of the Portuguese cabinet, changed the tone. He said that "for the government, numbers are not important. What really matters is that the difficult situation that Portugal is in will only be overcome with hard work and serenity".
After Greece and Ireland in 2010, Portugal became the third eurozone country to request an international bailout when it could no longer raise fresh funds in the financial markets at sustainable borrowing rates.
The current centre-right government led by Prime Minister Passos Coelho has submitted a tough 2012 budget to help reduce the nation's huge debt.
Among other measures, the budget included the suspension of 13th and 14th month salary payments for civil servants and pensioners who earn more than 1,000 euros a month.