Angry but determined: Portuguese workers protest for better wages amid pandemic
By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira LISBON (Reuters) - Thousands of workers gathered in cities and towns across Portugal on Saturday demanding higher wages and more government action to protect jobs threatened by the coronavirus pandemic. During the peaceful protests, organised by Portugal's biggest umbrella union, the CGTP, workers wearing masks and keeping a safe distance urged the country's Socialist government to raise the national minimum wage to 850 euros from the current 635 euros, the lowest in western Europe
By Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira
LISBON (Reuters) - Thousands of workers gathered in cities and towns across Portugal on Saturday demanding higher wages and more government action to protect jobs threatened by the coronavirus pandemic.
During the peaceful protests, organised by Portugal's biggest umbrella union, the CGTP, workers wearing masks and keeping a safe distance urged the country's Socialist government to raise the national minimum wage to 850 euros from the current 635 euros, the lowest in western Europe.
"Workers' rights are increasingly being stolen," said Anabela Vogado, from trade union CESP, as she marched to Lisbon's main square. "The fear of the pandemic cannot take our rights away."
Unemployment in Portugal rose above 400,000 in August, according to the latest data, and is up more than a third on the same period last year.
In the southern Algarve region, which relies heavily on tourism, the number of people registered as unemployed soared 177% in August compared to a year ago.
"Why is there so much money to support (companies) with investments and moratoriums and then there is no political courage to stop the workers from being fired?," said worker Luis Batista, who was visibly angry.
The government, led by Prime Minister Antonio Costa, has introduced several measures to help businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic, including state-backed loans and delaying some tax payments.
It has also introduced a furlough scheme, allowing firms to temporarily suspend jobs or reduce working hours instead of firing workers. But those at Saturday's protests believe the measures were not enough.
"Our government mostly supports companies and forgets about the workers," said glassmaker Pedro Milheiro, who had joined the protest in Lisbon to express his frustration. "More support is needed."
(Reporting by Catarina Demony and Miguel Pereira; Editing by Christina Fincher)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.