The industrial action over the rising cost of living comes a week before the final vote on the 2023 budget.
Thousands of Portuguese doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants have walked out to demand a pay rise amid rising inflation, protesting the Socialist government just a week before a final vote on the 2023 budget.
Across the country, many schools and courts were closed on Friday, hospital appointments and surgeries were cancelled, and garbage was not collected.
Many European countries are facing labor problems due to the high cost of electricity and the high cost of living.
The Common Front of the Public Administration Union represents almost half of Portugal’s 730,000 public sector workers and called off a one-day strike.
“This year all workers have already lost one month’s salary due to inflation,” union coordinator Sebastiao Santana told reporters. “We are becoming poor.”
Public sector workers rose 0.9 percent in 2022, but consumer prices rose more than 10 percent annually in October, the fastest pace in more than 30 years.
“We are not going on strike because we like to lose one day’s wages, we are going on strike because the government has not responded to the issues we presented, especially regarding the increase in the cost of living due to inflation,” said Santana.
The agreement calls for a 10 percent wage increase, as well as 100 euros ($103.67) a month in 2023, while the government has said it wants a 3.6 percent wage increase. The government is forecasting an inflation rate of 4 percent next year.
In October, the government, major trade unions and the country’s second-largest labor union GUT reached an agreement to raise wages for private sector workers by 5.1 percent in 2023.
Workers at Volkswagen’s Autoeuropa plant entered their second day of a partial strike demanding a surprise pay rise. The strike at one of Portugal’s biggest retailers covers the first two hours of its four shifts.