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Portuguese Train drivers continue strike

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A man waits for a train at Santa Apolonia train station during a strike in Lisbon, Portugal, December 23, 2011.

Train drivers in Portugal have begun the New Year with industrial action, as they continued their strike in protest at disciplinary measures.

Most national rail services have remained cancelled on Sunday, the last day of a four-day strike.

Drivers were disciplined for allegedly failing to ensure legally required minimum services during a recent general strike over pay cuts and tax hikes that are part of a national austerity program.

The state-owned national rail company says the strikes called during 2011 have cost it more than ten million dollars.

Portugal’s parliament has recently passed a severe austerity budget for 2012, hoping to ensure future growth in exchange for a 78-billion-euro ($104 billion) international bailout it is receiving.

The measures include a sharp cut in wages in the public sector, a rise in products and services taxes, and cuts in health and education spending.

Portugal, faced with a double-dip recession this year, is the third country to succumb to financial troubles in the eurozone debt crisis and seek funding assistance after Greece and Ireland.

Other European countries such as Greece, Ireland, Spain and Italy are also struggling with a debt crisis that is threatening the whole eurozone.


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