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Portugal: 'Biggest strike action ever'
OVER THREE million workers downed tools in Portugal on 24 November, as a massive general strike brought the country to a halt. It is already being termed as the country's 'biggest strike action ever'.
Cedric Gerome, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)
After months of growing resistance, strike actions and massive demonstrations during the year, this general strike is a major turning point.
Potentially it could begin a new stage in the raging class battle of the Portuguese working class against the market-dictated policies of the massively rejected 'Socialist Party' (PS) minority government.
The freezing of the pensions, raising of VAT and various taxes, 5% cut in public sector wages, further attacks on welfare benefits, cuts of 15% in operational costs of public hospitals, and new road tolls, are among some of the new measures planned for the 2011 austerity budget, which was approved by parliament.
For several months Socialismo Revolucionário, the CWI's group in Portugal, has demanded that the left and the trade unions take bolder initiatives in order to unite the workers' struggles into a 24-hour general strike, as a first step in the building of a massive fight back.
After the European day of action on 29 September, and under increasing pressure from below, the decision to organise a general strike was eventually announced by the CGTP, Portugal's largest trade union. On 6 November, as a sort of 'aperitif' to the general strike, 100,000 public servants demonstrated on the streets of Lisbon, the capital city, against the budget.
Socialismo Revolucionario thinks that the general strike announced in Greece for 15 December represents the perfect occasion to build upon the success of 24 November and to concretise a sentiment which is shared by an increasing number of workers in Portugal: the necessity for coordinated strike action on an international level.
For a full report on the general strike and a strategy for the left, see http://www.socialistworld.net/index.php/4689
In The Socialist 1 December 2010:
Youth Fight for Education
Socialist Party editorial
The Socialist Interview
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis