Tag Archive for: inflation

Portugal, a country of strikes

The first half of 2023 was marked by successive strikes covering numerous sectors. From train drivers to doctors and from teachers to journalists. Even police officers gathered to protest against the lack of their right to strike.

Discontent is high and workers ready to use their voice. Portuguese are of the opinion that life is generally going well but that their financial situation leaves much to be desired.

Looking at the figures from the Directorate-General for Employment and Labour Relations (DGERT), it is found that the number of strikes last year increased by 25% compared to 2021, being the highest since 2013 – at the time of the financial crisis. And in January this year, the number of strike notices almost quadrupled compared to the same month in 2022.

The year started with a strike by Comboios de Portugal (Portuguese Railways) for a pay rise to compensate for the loss of purchasing power and quickly spilled over to the other sectors of public transport. 

The 2023 judicial year opened with a strike in January, against the lack of staff, the freezing of promotions, and the degradation of justice that undermines the functioning of courts. It did not stop there, with more strikes in February and April. The effects of the strikes on the justice system are devastating with the postponement of thousands of hearings and trials in the courts.

Journalists are not left out of the fight, with TV1 going on strike in March for raises in payment, an increase in meal allowance, and 25 days of vacation. Employees from the news agency Lusa followed in April and announced new strikes in June and August and also RTP (Radio and Television Portugal) unions threaten to take action in the absence of their ‘decent’ requests.

In February, technical and administrative staff from three hospitals in Lisbon united, to claim a collective labour agreement in all State-run hospitals. A strike in March was suspended after the hospitals finally gave in to their demands.

Nurses started paralyzing services in February. There were massive demonstrations countrywide and even the private sector joined in for better pay and working conditions.

As for doctors, a national strike of two days took place in March over the ‘lack of measures’ in the SNS (National Health Service) and the ‘unacceptable proposal of the Ministry on salary scales. New strikes have been announced in August. 

For teachers, the second term started in January with strikes against the government’s proposals for the revision of the recruitment regime and for better career perspectives. 45,000 teachers signed a petition. They warned that the protest would not stop ‘any time soon’, and they were right.

There were massive demonstrations and strikes all over the country. Fenprof (Federation of Teachers) called for convergence between unions in defense of teachers’ rights and public schools.

Negotiations with the government are deadlocked and strikes are back and forth in the north, center, and south of the country. Developments that do not bode well for the coming school year. Between pressure, threats, and hopes, the teachers’ struggle reached Brussels, where they try to find the answers they do not have in Portugal.

Enjoy your week                   Approveite a semana               (pic Sapo)

‘Look for the persons who benefit and you will know’ – Lenin

The four biggest economies in the Eurozone – Germany, France, Italy, and Spain – together represent two-thirds of the European Gross Domestic Product (GDP), an important indicator of economic health.

The Portuguese economy is relatively small – representing 1.5% of the European GDP – and surpassed by countries with less population like the Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and Ireland. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a growth in the Portuguese economy of 2.6% this year and stabilization at around 2% in the medium term, with a fall in inflation to 5.6%. Earlier this year, the IMF had predicted a growth of just 1%. The above-expected growth is mainly attributed to an increase in tourism – after the coronavirus pandemic – and the export of goods.

According to the Portuguese Government, export is increasing and represents 40% of its GDP. Cork is the most exported product – sold to 133 countries – reaching a record of 1.2 billion euros in 2021.

The quality newspaper Expresso disclosed that wine exportations last year  – especially to the US, the UK, Canada, and Brazil – amounted to almost 1 billion euros. Portuguese wine is popular in every continent especially because of its original products like Green Wine, Port, and Madeira Wine.

Moreover, the country is the 4th biggest exporter of olive oil in the world and exports plenty of shoes, clothing, vegetables, and bicycles.

Last year a downward trend in debt and deficit was common in the Eurozone where public debt stood at 92% of GPD – four percentage points lower than at the end of 2021.Eurostat revealed that Portugal was able to register an even more pronounced reduction (eleven percentage points) in 2022, putting its actual public debt at 114%.

Even so, the Portuguese debt remains one of the highest of the 27 member states, just behind Greece and Italy.

The financial rating agency Fitch recently reaffirmed the assessment of the Portuguese debt at BBB+.
The robust reduction in public debt was also highlighted by the US agency, which forecasts that the Portuguese debt will further decrease to 105% next year. 

Even though Portugal’s economy has grown above the EU average this year, it still has one of the lowest growth rates in the world.

According to the newspaper Expresso, the GDP in the country has grown at a mean rate of only 1.2% per year since 1999 and is unlikely to change its course by 2028.

Enjoy the week            Aproveite a semana                                     (pic Público/Sapo)