Portugal paralysed by 24-hour general strike

Portgual's largest trade union confederation staged a 24-hour strike on March 22 in defence of workers' rights and against European Union-mandated austerity, the Morning Star said that day.

Tens of thousands of trade unionists and their allies rallied in the centre of Lisbon in the afternoon.

The General Confederation of Portuguese Workers (CGTP) called the 24-hour stoppage to fight austerity policies enacted by the government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho in return for last May's €78 billion (about $100 billion) bailout from the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

Unions are particularly angry over a reform to the country's labour law that waters down workers' rights and reduces severance pay.

The policies have kept the economy mired in recession for a second consecutive year and pushed the official unemployment rate to a record 14.8%.

The Morning Star reported that CGTP general secretary Armenio Carlos warned that the wave of austerity could result in many workers having their pay packets slashed by up to 25%.