Fresh protests hit Portugal

Added On June 23, 2014

Thousands of Portuguese took to the streets of Lisbon on Saturday, in the latest demonstration against the austerity policies of Portugal's centre-right government.
The protests, organized by national trade unions, came after the Portuguese government approved new cuts in pensions and tax increase to meet the budget deficit target. 
Earlier, the country's Constitutional Court voided some austerity measures, including cuts in public employees' pay and income tax on unemployment and sickness.
But the government argued that the court's decision will cause instability in the country.
The country's national trade unions claim that the government was "crossing the red line" imposed by the country's constitution.
They want the center-right ruling coalition to ease off spending cuts and lift the national minimum wage to 515 euros.
Portugal was granted a 78-billion-euro bailout by the European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank in May 2011 when facing bankruptcy.
The debt-laden country was required to implement harsh measures, including spending cuts and tax hikes to meet the deficit-reduction targets imposed as a condition of the loan.
On May 17, Portugal officially ended its bailout program with a "clean exit". 
However, the government has made it clear that austerity must continue to keep the economy on track. 
The country's unemployment now stands at 15 percent, while its national debt is close to 132 percent of the country's GDP.