Strikes dog Portuguese government amid continuing austerity

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — A walkout by rail workers over pay is disrupting Portuguese train services amid a spate of strikes by government employees.

Staff at the state-owned rail company Comboios de Portugal, and its allied infrastructure management and maintenance companies, walked off the job for 24 hours Friday. They also want higher staffing levels and a modernization of the company’s rolling stock.

Consecutive Portuguese governments have slashed public spending since the country almost went bankrupt in 2011 during the eurozone debt crisis. The current center-left Socialist government, which will seek re-election next year, is aiming for a 2019 budget deficit of 0.2 percent — the lowest in more than 40 years.

But the continuing cutbacks have angered labor groups, with nurses, court clerks and teachers recently walking out over pay and working conditions.

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