A strike by Portugal’s largest trade union confederation forced the cancellation of most public transport services today as well as hitting schools and hospital services. The Lisbon subway, was closed. Train, bus and ferry companies in the capital and the second-largest city Porto provided only occasional services.
Some schools sent children home because teachers and auxiliary staff stayed away from work, while hospitals and health centres postponed or cancelled appointments. The General Confederation of Portuguese Workers, representing more than 600,000 mostly blue-collar and public sector workers, called the 24-hour stoppage to protest against austerity measures and labour reforms attached to Portugal’s €78bn bailout last year.
Pay cuts and tax hikes have helped keep the economy in recession for a second straight year and push the unemployment rate to a record of 14.8%. Portugal’s other large workers’ confederation, the General Workers’ Union, did not join today’s strike. Earlier this year it endorsed an agreement with the government and businesses that makes it easier for employers to hire and fire workers.