The union action over the rising cost of living comes a week before a final vote on the 2023 budget.

Thousands of Portuguese doctors, nurses, teachers and civil servants have staged a strike to demand wage increases amid rampant inflation, challenging the majority socialist government a week ahead of a final vote on the 2023 budget.

Across the country, many schools and courts are closed on Friday, hospital appointments and surgeries have been canceled and garbage is not being collected.

Many European countries are facing labor disputes due to high energy prices and the rising cost of living.

The Common Front of the Public Administration Union represents nearly half of Portugal’s 730,000 civil servants and called the one-day strike.

“This year, all workers have already lost a month’s wages due to inflation,” union coordinator Sebastiao Santana told reporters. “We’re getting poorer.”

Consumer prices

Civil servants received a 0.9 percent pay rise in 2022, but consumer prices rose more than 10 percent year-on-year in October, the fastest pace in more than 30 years.

“We are not on strike because we would like to lose a day’s wages, we are on strike because the government has not responded to the issues we have presented, mainly the need to offset the high cost of living due to inflation,” said Santana .

The union is demanding a 10 per cent salary increase and a minimum of 100 euros ($103.67) per month for 2023, while the government has proposed an average wage increase of 3.6 per cent. The government forecasts an inflation rate of 4 percent for next year.

In October, the government, key business associations and the country’s second-largest trade union, GUT, struck an agreement to raise wages for private sector workers by 5.1 percent by 2023.

Workers at Volkswagen’s Autoeuropa car factory entered their second day of a partial strike demanding an extraordinary pay rise. The strike at one of Portugal’s largest exporters affects the first two hours of each of the four shifts.

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