Declaration By Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)

The today’s General Strike was a great general strike, a powerful demonstration by the Portuguese workers and people of discontent, protest and demand for change.

The PCP salutes the Portuguese workers for this momentous act of great significance in the history of their struggle.

It salutes the CGTP-IN and all other unions and workers’ organizations that have joined this great demonstration of strength and combativeness.

A great general strike, with a level of participation similar to the previous general strikes, with a large participation of workers of all sectors and of all regions of the country.

A strike with a participation based on the collective action and on multiple examples of individual initiative and courage.

A general strike with a great impact.

With a strong participation in the industrial sector as demonstrated in various sub-sectors as Portucel (Viana do Castelo), Centralcer, Exide, Valorsul, Sakthi, Groz Beckert, Browning, Funfrap, the Shipyards of Viana do Castelo, Lisnave, Arsenal of Alfeite, Vestion, Parmalat, Eical, Paulo de Oliveira, the cork industry sector, mines of Panasqueira, Impormol, INCM, Cavan, Saint Gobain/Sekurit.

With impact in the services sector: a high participation in the postal sector, in the contact centers of EDP (Electricity Company of Portugal), important expressions in other sectors, including in trade, hotels and catering. The fisheries sector was also strongly affected.

A high participation in public administration, in local administration, with many levels of participation reaching 90% or more, namely in the waste-picking and waste disposal sector, municipal and urban transport sectors, labour and auxiliary sectors, in central government, with hundreds of schools of various levels of education and kindergartens closed and many other educational institutions deeply affected in their operation. A major impact on health services, justice, finance and social security departments.

A great participation in the transport sector with stoppages of above 70% and 80%, as exemplified by the maritime/port, the Lisbon Metro, CP (Portuguese railways) across the country with a large participation, the river transport with participations in Soflusa of 75% and in Transtejo of 70%, the STCP (public transportation in the OPorto City) and Metro of OPorto, in several regional transport companies, the Metro Sul do Tejo (the southern tagus surface metro) with the greatest strike ever. In the air transportation sector the strike registered lower participation.

A general strike, which, in some regions, reached higher expression than the previous general strikes, as well as in some sectors as exemplified by the local administration, particularly in the area of waste collection and other areas of public administration, as well as in industry and services.

A general strike all the more significant as it was held under hard conditions of the highest unemployment rate since the fascist dictatorship, of precariousness, of mass impoverishment, in which each day’s wage has a big impact in the families budget.

A general strike all the more significant as it was held amidst sophisticated forms of ideological constraint and coercion, threats, repression, arbitrariness and violation of the law of strike, of devaluation and silencing either before or during the strike. In the present conditions, the high participation on this strike is an undeniable demonstration of discontent and protest.

It is important to underline, and to salute, the important involvement of young people and of workers with precarious labour relations; the high participation in the picket lines, and the strong participation in the mass demonstrations and concentrations already held and in progress.

I would like to greet all those who joined in many different ways this important day of struggle, namely the more than one million and two hundred thousand workers that are unemployed, thus prevented from going on strike because their workplace was destroyed.

I would like also to greet all retired and pensioner workers, as well as the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs and young students that decided to associate themselves to this general strike.

This general strike is a clear rejection of the aggression pact signed by the PS, PSD and CDS-PP, with the IMF, the EU and the ECB, with the support of the President, consequences of which are deepening day by day, worsening the exploitation, impoverishment and pushing the country into disaster.

The general strike is a clear rejection of the attacks against the workers, of the cuts in wages, subsidies, rights, social benefits and in public services.

The general strike is a clear rejection of the economic recession which is destroying productive capacity, employment and wealth creation.

It is a rejection of the robbery of billions of Euros delivered directly to BPN (National Bank of Portugal), of the colossal sums stolen to fatten the profits of big business under the pretext of the payment of interest on a debt largely illegitimate.

The general strike is a clear rejection of the package of changes, for the worse, of labor legislation that aims to attack all workers, of public and private sectors.

It is a rejection of forced and non-paid work, with the elimination of holidays, reduction of vacations days and reduction of compulsory rest days.

A rejection of the reduction of wages, namely with the cuts in the payment of rest days and overtime

A rejection of the attempt to generalize the working bank of hours, which could mean extend working time to 12 hours per day and 60 hours per week, thus aiming to increase the working hours.

A rejection of the facilitation of redundancies, with the possibility of invoking the low worker productivity, and of the reduction in compensation for dismissal.

A rejection of the attack on collective bargaining.

A rejection of a “labour package” which means more layoffs, unemployment, job insecurity, wage and pension cuts, deterioration of working conditions, a huge social and civilization step backwards.

The today’s general strike was a clear demand against the approval and enactment of this “labour package”. A demand that, in any case, will continue with the struggle against its application,

In the sequence of the great national demonstration on 11 February, the general strike of today represent an unequivocal demand for a better life, for a Portugal with a future.

To reject the pact of aggression, to promote the rupture with the right policy, to ensure a patriotic and political left – with the renegotiation of the debt in its amounts, period of paying, and interest rate, the investment in the productive sector and in domestic production, the public control on strategic sectors, the valuation of work and workers, namely with the increase in wages and pensions, the guarantee of social support, the defense of public services, the support for micro small and medium entrepreneurs, the affirmation of national sovereignty – is the only possible path to Portugal.

The PCP, reaffirming the confidence that it is possible a more developed and fairer Portugal, appeals to the workers, the youth, the Portuguese people to continue, multiply and intensify their action and struggle.

In the immediate term the PCP underlines the importance of the participation in the national demonstration of the Portuguese working youth, and in the demonstration in defense of the parishes and local authorities, that will both take place on March 31 in Lisbon.

The PCP calls for all democrats and patriots to mobilize around the objective of the rejection of the pact of aggression, for a Portugal with a future.

Lisbon, Portugal

March 22, 2012