Portugal's public services at standstill as workers strike

Source: Xinhua| 2018-10-27 01:26:21|Editor: yan
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LISBON, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- Schools, hospitals and museums remained closed in Portugal on Friday as public sector workers staged a nationwide strike.

"It is undoubtedly one of the largest public sector strikes of recent years," said Ana Avoila, coordinator of the main group organizing the strike, the Common Front, part of the General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP).

"In overall terms, we're looking at participation and shutdowns of around 85 percent," she added, in a press conference held in Lisbon.

The country's principal hospitals are providing only minimal services and hundreds of schools and nurseries have been closed all day.

Citizens advice bureaus and social security and tax offices likewise failed to open and garbage went uncollected in several cities, including Lisbon.

Tourist attractions such as the Belem Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery in Lisbon kept their doors closed, as did the majority of town halls and local councils.

The cause of the strike is a pay dispute. Public sector workers have had their salaries frozen for ten years. In real terms, this equates to a 20 percent loss of purchasing power.

Union representatives called the strike having failed to get the government to include pay rises in the 2019 state budget.

The government had "simulated negotiation," said Avoila, without making a concrete proposal.

The Common Front/CGTP was joined in industrial action by the General Union of Workers (UGT), the Federation of Public Administration Syndicates (FESAP) and the Union of State Technical Experts (STE).

A second strike has been called for Nov. 15.