10 YEARS WITHOUT PAY RISES, PORTUGAL ON THE BRINK OF POLITICAL CRISIS
Prime Minister Antonio Costa is threatening to resign if Parliament passes a law to raise teachers' salaries. Following the 2008 crisis, Pedro Coelho's right-wing government implemented an austerity policy that led, in 2010, to the freezing of salaries for Portugal's 650,000 civil servants. In 2015, the Socialists came to power, raising hopes of reversing the trend.
Since the beginning of this year, the teachers' unions, like all public service unions, have been calling for a new, more equitable and more equitable system. wage increases. Despite proposals for dialogue, the government has refused to negotiate. It considers that remedial measures would be too costly, increasing the public deficit which it is trying to reduce in order to show Brussels that Portugal is a good pupil. For the trade unions, this position is difficult to understand.
For the Portuguese government, it's a question of credibility
The unions are perfectly aware of the need to maintain a certain rigor in the budget, yet they believe that it is possible to set aside a share for the social sector. Portugal's budget deficit should be close to zero in 2019.
This will be a first in Portugal's history. Yet the government continues to obsess over this issue. If the state, the country's largest employer, doesn't raise its employees' salaries, how can it demand that the private sector do so? Ten years without a pay rise is far too long!
Antonio Costa pledged to break with austerity policy
During the first half of its mandate, the Socialist government took very important measures for workers: it raised the minimum wage from 480 à 600€ over fourteen months; unemployment fell to 6.7 % after a peak of over 17 % in 2013; social dialogue has been relaunched.
The balance sheet is therefore very positive. But for the unions, more needs to be done. Particularly on the issue of salary increases for civil servants.
Antonio Costa threatens to resign
It's important to understand that the unions are not behind this arm wrestling match. Everything will be decided this week between the government and Parliament. The risk of a political crisis will in no way change the position of the civil servants or the unions. They are determined to get their way. But the risk of a political crisis will not change their position. Let's not forget that this threat of resignation from Antonio Costa is first and foremost a communication tool in the run-up to the European elections.