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Portuguese civil servants strike after bailout deal

Stephen Beard May 6, 2011
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Portuguese civil servants strike after bailout deal

Stephen Beard May 6, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Today in Portugal, workers at a lot of hospitals, schools and government offices are on strike. They’re unhappy that their country’s getting bailed out by its European neighbors to the tune of $100 billion. But it’s not the money workers are upset about, it’s the strings attached.

From Lisbon, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports.


STEPHEN BEARD: Portugal’s bailout terms appear milder than those imposed on Greece and Ireland. But the finance chief here admits that the cuts in pensions, health care and welfare spending will be painful. He says they’ll bring on a recession. Portuguese unemployment is likely to rise from 11 to 13 percent.

Ana Oliveira is one of the organizers of today’s strike. She says government workers and services will will bear the brunt of the austerity. And that’s unfair:

ANA OLIVEIRA: It was not the public services that put us into this mess. So it shouldn’t be the public services to suffer.

The main political parties and many of the unions have broadly backed the bailout plan. It does seem likely to go ahead. But a general election is looming. There’s uncertainty and discontent here is rising. Portuguese workers go on strike less than any others in Europe. That record may be tested in the months ahead.

In Lisbon I’m Stephen Beard for Marketplace.

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