Portugal union calls strike against government austerity
LISBON (Reuters) - Portugal's largest labor union has called a general anti-government strike for June 27 to protest against public sector pay cuts, layoffs and other austerity measures imposed to meet EU/IMF bailout terms.
The strike will encompass workers in the country's public and private sectors, CGTP chief Armenio Carlos told reporters on Friday, adding that all other unions were welcome to join.
"It is a strike for everyone, it is a strike to promote change of policy, of the government and to call for early elections," he said.
Previous stoppages since Portugal's mid-2011 bailout, including a general strike in November, have had little impact.
But strife has intensified lately since April's rejection by the Constitutional Court of some austerity measures that forced the government to come up with alternative spending cuts and other unpopular steps like raising the retirement age.
The country's other big umbrella union, the UGT, has said it is likely to join the strike. It holds a strategy meeting next week. CGTP groups about 750,000 workers and UGT some 500,000.
The centre-right government imposed the largest tax hikes in living memory from the start of the year and in early May announced 4.8 billion euros in savings until 2015, including a redundancy program in the public sector.
In an amended budget, the government on Friday reaffirmed its recently-eased deficit target of 5.5 percent of gross domestic product for this year. Next year's deficit target is 4 percent. It expects the economy to shrink 2.3 percent in 2013, after last year's 3.2 percent slump, with the country expected to return to meager growth next year.
A group known as "Screw the Troika", in reference to Portugal's three lenders from the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF, plans anti-austerity rallies on Saturday. Teachers' unions have promised to start a series of strikes between June 7 and 17 during the national exams at schools.
(Reporting By Andrei Khalip; editing by Ron Askew)