Portugal's public workers strike against wage, pension cuts

First joint general strike by two main unions in more than a decade
By Axel Bugge
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 12/16/2010

(Reuters) - Portugal's two biggest unions held their first joint general strike since 1988 on Nov. 23, hoping to weaken the Socialist government's resolve on implementing austerity measures meant to tackle a debt crisis.

The strike, the first by the country's two main unions (UGT and CGTP) since 1988, disrupted train, bus and ferry service, grounded planes and halted services from health care to banking in protest against wage cuts and rising unemployment in western Europe's poorest country.

Prime Minister Jose Socrates, whose government is struggling to quash speculation that Portugal will be the next in Europe to need a bailout after Ireland and Greece, has pledged to stay the course on wage cuts, pension freezes and tax hikes to cut the budget deficit.