On Wednesday, November 24, 2010, a one day public sector strike virtually shut down the entire country. This left school classes cancelled, government offices closed and many municipal services disrupted. The BBC reported that 80 percent of the trains were idle and many flights were cancelled due to a lack of air controllers and ground crews who were also out on strike. This was apparently the largest general strike in 22 years.
This protest was about an austerity package to be voted into law this coming Friday. Legislators are planning to roll back public-sector wages by an average of five per cent, cut welfare benefits and hike income and sales taxes as part of a plan to reduce the country’s deficit from 7.3 per cent to 4.6 per cent of gross domestic product in 2011. This plan is an attempt to shore up investor confidence in Portugal however the strikers feel these austerity measures will merely serve to fuel unemployment and hurt the poorest sectors of society, who are forced to pay the price for investor jitters.
While the Portuguese government claims it doesn’t need a bailout, speculation is that the country will in fact need one in 2011. Economists and investors have long used the acronym PIGS to refer to Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain. They think that sooner or later these four unstable economies would fail. With Greece under, with Ireland taking a bailout; we have two down and two to go.
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by Yours Truly – Nov 24/2010
by Glen Allen – Nov 24/2010