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Anti-austerity strike halts Lisbon metro

Published on 27/09/2012

The metro in the Portuguese capital ground to a halt Thursday as workers staged a partial strike in protest at the privatisation of city transport and salary cuts.

The measures are part of an austerity package which Portugal is introducing in exchange for crucial international bailout funds but has met fierce opposition in the debt-laden country.

“We are fighting to defend public transport and to prevent the privatisation plan whose only goal is to generate more profit by raising prices and reducing the quality of the service,” said Anabela Carvalheira, an official from the transport and communications union FECTRANS.

“We are also battling to defend our rights and the theft of our salaries,” she added.

All stations in Lisbon were closed but the service is due to resume at 0930 GMT, the metro operators said.

The government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho met Wednesday to examine proposals to raise taxes in place of enacting painful wage cuts which have sparked outrage among workers.

The new measures would still have to be approved by Portugal’s troika of international lenders — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission.

Meeting deficit targets is key for Portugal to receive more funds under a bailout worth 78 billion euros ($101.5 billion) negotiated last year with the troika.