Statement by Jeronimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) on the Portuguese general strike

1 – In thousands of enterprises and workplaces, millions of workers today expressed a fighting No! to the Pact of Aggression in a memorable day of struggle in defence of workers’ rights and for a developed and sovereign Portugal.

The general strike called by CGTP-IN and which gathered widespread support, represented a powerful answer to the biggest offensive since the days of fascism. A strike against exploitation and impoverishment, against the path of national disaster that PSD, CDS and PS, beholden to the interests of big business, Portuguese and international business, want to impose on Portugal.

A general strike that represents a great moment in the history of the struggle of the Portuguese workers and people, an expression of the intense class struggle being waged in our country, a patriotic and democratic affirmation, and a factor of mobilisation and confidence in the struggle for a Portugal with a future.

2 – The PCP stresses the national dimension achieved by the general strike. All around the country – in the mainland and the autonomous regions – and in all sectors of activity, the success of the strike represented a significant adherence by the workers to the call by CGTP-IN. It received widespread solidarity and support from other layers of society.

The general strike had special significance in the productive sector.  That was the case in the automobile industry in Auto-Europa and its whole industrial complex, in Renault-Cacia, Exide (Tudor), Visteon, Delphi; in the metallurgy and metalwork sector in the Viana do Castelo Naval Shipyards, Lisnave, Arsenal do Alfeite, Browning, Sacti and Sacometal; in the cork industry in the Amorim group; in the textile, clothing and shoe industry in Carveste, Paulo de Oliveira Group, Trekar, Califa, Huber Trico; in the food and drink industry in Central Cer; in ceramics, cement and glass Saint-Gobain (Covina), Vista Alegre, Secil.

The PCP high values the strong participation in the transport sector in CP Railways, Refer, EMEF, Lisbon Metro. Oporto Metro, Soflusa and Transtejo river navigation, and in dozens of bus companies, as was the case of Carris, STCP, TST, TUBraga, TCBarreiro, TUCoimbra, MovAveiro. It closed all sea ports and most fishing ports and airports and air transport, with the cancellation of more than 600 flights.

The PCP also stresses the great response given by the central and local public administration workers with stoppages reaching historical levels, with full or partial stoppages all over the country in solid waste collection, and other public services, as in the case of the health sector with a strong participation by its workers, and in the education sector with the closure of hundreds of schools.

The PCP highly estimates the mobilisation in various sectors and enterprises and the widespread expression of the general strike on the streets, in thousands of pickets all around the country, information points and gatherings that made this day of action an impressive collective work.

3 – This extraordinary participation has to be highly respected, considering that it was put together under increasing pressure, reprisals and blackmail. This general strike constitutes a defeat for the ideological campaign that tries to portray the policy of regression as inevitable and the struggle as useless; a defeat for the blackmail of imposition of illegitimate minimum services that attempt to condition the right to strike and illegally resorting to the police and national republican guard security forces to cover the violation of the right to strike.

It is a general strike that, at the same time, represents a victory over the economic conditioning, threats of dismissal, loss of wages and bonuses, repression and intimidation, namely against casual workers. It is a great show of strength, determination and cool combativeness that defeated the attempts of intimidation and provocations mounted to try to overshadow its scale and the people’s wish to build a better future.

A general strike that is in itself an affirmation of dignity and combativeness of millions of workers who renounced a day of their wages, in defence and affirmation of the great meaning of their protest against the worsening of their living conditions. It was an action to save the country from disaster.

In a country marked by more than 35 years of right-wing policies, subjected to the process of capitalist integration of the European Union, a victim of the nature of capitalism and its crisis, the general strike expressed a firm and wide demand for breaking with the current situation.

4 – The PCP salutes the millions of workers who participated in the general strike. We salute in particular the thousands of youth who striked for the first time, an essential factor of undeniable political meaning that will be projected in the future.

We salute CGTP-IN and the workers’ representative organisations, all the activists, shop stewards and trade union leaders who built up this powerful day of struggle, reaffirming the key role of the united trade union movement which, with its strength and identity, constitutes a huge social force indispensible to build a better life, a country of progress and social justice, a determining factor in the process of a break with the right-wing policy.

5 – Servants of the interests of big business and the impositions of the major powers of the European Union, the Government, the parties that support the Pact of Aggression, the President of the Republic who sponsors the current policy, today received and unequivocal and firm condemnation.

It was a strike that, while contributing to the growing isolation of those who rob the people and sink the country, brings about a compelling new stage in the development of the mass struggle which, sooner or later, will defeat the aims of the Government and big business.

What the general strike confirmed was an unshakeable confidence to continue, in every enterprise and workplace, in every locality, in every sector of activity, the continuation of the struggle with specific and converging actions. PCP also highlights the day of struggle that will take place next Wednesday, 30th November, in front of the National Assembly, on the day of the final voting of the State Budget for 2012.

6 – The PCP, in solidarity with the general strike, reaffirms its everlasting commitment to the Portuguese workers and people. The struggle that follows will be even more demanding, but the strength and determination that this strike showed brings confidence that it is not only necessary, but possible to materialise a patriotic and left-wing policy that will contribute to save the country from the path of disaster that they want to impose on it.

November 24, 2011