To get a loan from the Euro Zone and the International Monetary Fund, the Portugal rightist government was only too happy to dissolve its laws protecting workers. Now bosses are allowed to change hours and working conditions according to their wishes, to lay off workers at will and to ignore vacations and holidays. The government has adopted a strict austerity policy.
Various unions have been using partial strikes to protest these changes and put pressure on the bosses. Since June, the railroad workers strike every holiday.
The railroad strike Christmas Day was particularly effective. Besides the railroad workers, the bus operators and light rail workers in the Lisbon area went out, almost completely paralyzing mass transit in Portugal’s largest and capital city.
Since October, dock workers at Portugal’s four main ports — Lisbon, Setubal (south), Figueira da Foz (center) and Aveiro (north) — did not work the midnight to 5 a.m. shift, weekends and holidays. This partial strike, costing the Portuguese economy 400 million euros a month, forced manufacturers to ship through Spain.
After the bosses agreed to negotiate, the dockers suspended their strike Dec. 28.