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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 November 2006, 18:23 GMT
Portugal public workers on strike
Fernando Teixeira dos Santos
The finance minister said the state could not afford the workforce
Portuguese public sector workers have begun a nationwide two-day strike in protest against government plans to cut back on public spending.

More than 80% of the workforce have joined the strike, unions say.

The strikers oppose the government's plans to reduce the 700,000-strong workforce by 75,000. The government says the public sector is overstaffed.

The strike has had wide-ranging effects with schools and hospitals closed and rubbish uncollected.

The industrial action coincided with an unrelated strike by subway workers, forcing commuters to make their own way to work.

The public sector strike is in response to a budget bill, approved on Thursday, which aims to reduce Portugal's budget deficit from 4.6% in 2006 to 3.7% in 2007, in line with EU limits.

The government says cuts in public spending are necessary to achieve that goal.

Finance Minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos said the current public workforce was "unsustainable".

"We have a public administration that the country cannot afford to pay because it is getting more expensive every year," he said.

Country profile: Portugal
04 Oct 06 |  Country profiles

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