Briefs: Ireland protests water charges, Portugal marches against austerity

January 30, 2016
Protesters againstwater charges outside the GPO on Dublin's O'Connell Street. Photo via An Phoblacht.

Ireland: Protests hit 30 cities against water charge

Tens of people took in 30 different protests across the Ireland against water charges on January 23, An Phoblacht said that day. The protests coincided with the Ard Fheis (congress) of Fine Gael, which heads the Irish government, that took place in Dublin.

Right2Water spokesperson Brendan Ogle said the turnout showed that water charges were still a major issue and that Right2Water is planning more demonstrations closer to the election: “Water has been a catalyst in the fight against austerity but people are crying out for a change in how our country is run.”

Speaking in Dundalk, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams reiterated his party's commitment to scrapping water charges if in government: “Fine Gael and Labour continue to underestimate the level of public anger over this issue. They have failed to heed the clear and unmistakable message of the people.”

Portugal: Hundreds of thousands strike against austerity

Portuguese public-sector union coalition Common Front said that its 600,000 workers took strike action on January 29, the Morning Star Online said. The 24-hour strike, intended to press the government to reverse austerity measures more swiftly than it plans, disrupted schools, hospitals, courts and other public services.

The Socialist Party minority government, which is backed by the Portuguese Communist Party and Left Bloc, has pledged to restore workplace entitlements that were sacrificed at the beheast of the European Union in return for a €78 billion bailout of private banks in 2011.

The government has already approved a return to public-service workers' hard-won 35-hour working week, down from the current 40 hours, but only from July.
The Common Front, which is close to the militant CGTP federation, says that change must come sooner.

The government will also restore cuts to public-sector pay, bring back four public holidays, increase the lowest pensions and cut tax for low-income families.

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