Strike in Portugal slated for March 22

Strike in Portugal slated for March 22

LISBON - Agence France-Presse
Strike in Portugal slated for March 22

Strikers in Portugal prepare posters like these seen here to protest against the government’s labor reforms.

Portugal’s main union, CGTP, called Feb. 16 for a general strike on March 22 to protest against the center-right government’s labor market reforms. The strike decision was announced by CGTP Secretary-General Armenio Carlos following a meeting of national union leaders, Portugal’s Lusa news agency reported.

The controversial reforms are part of a plan to meet the conditions set by the European Union and International Monetary Fund for their bailout of debt-stricken Portugal.

In exchange for a loan of 78 billion euros from the EU and the IMF last May, Portugal agreed to sell public companies, as well as implement labor reforms, such as introducing shorter holidays and more flexibility regarding workers’ hours and layoffs.

The government has reached an accord on the labor reforms with Portugal’s second major union, the UGT, and Portuguese employers, but the CGTP has refused to accept it.

Unemployment hit a new high of 14 percent in the final quarter of last year. The Portuguese economy contracted by 1.5 percent in 2011.