Thousands of people protested for higher wages and pensions in Portugal today. At the demonstration in the capital Lisbon, they also called for government measures to limit rising food prices.
Portugal is one of the poorest countries in Western Europe. According to official data, more than half of the employees in the country earned less than 1,000 euros a month last year, the minimum wage is 760 euros.
The largest Portuguese umbrella union, CGTP, is calling for wages and pensions to be increased by at least ten percent. In addition, the government is to introduce price caps for staple foods.
Government rejects request
Economics Minister Antonio Costa Silva had rejected such measures the day before, saying that the free market was the best mechanism for setting prices. Inflation in Portugal was 8.2 percent in February. The prices for unprocessed foods such as fruit and vegetables rose by around 20 percent.
The socialist Prime Minister Costa, who governs with an absolute majority, is increasingly confronted with street protests and strikes by teachers, doctors, railway workers and other professional groups.