The General Strike of November 2012 and Anti-Austerity Protests – Evidence from the Portuguese Case

Monday, 11 July 2016: 15:15
Location: Hörsaal 16 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Lídia FERNANDES, Faculty of Economics – University of Coimbra – Portugal. Researcher at Dinamia'CET-IUL, Centre for Socioeconomic Change and Territorial Studies, Portugal
Hugo DIAS, Institute of Economics - State University of Campinas, Brazil
The economic and financial crisis of 2008 contributed to intensify the discontent on a global scale. After a first increase of conflict there is, as of 2010, a further intensification of protest having as mobilizing axis opposition to austerity policies. In Portugal, the first signs of mobilization came from the trade union movement, but the emergence of new actors allowed its social ampliation. Two new trends emerged: the innovation of action repertoires, not only by introducing new forms of collective action but also by a somewhat renewed recovery of “old” instruments of struggle - including strikes; a significant growth of transnational mobilizations, including the choice of common dates or the denunciation of the role of global political and financial institutions, such as the IMF, the ECB or the EU.

In this article, we address the general strike of November 14, 2012 to, from the Portuguese case, examine the role of general strikes in this wave of protest. The study seeks to explore its insertion in the conflictual dynamics of this period, not only for their transnational dimension as on the relationship between actors - particularly between trade unions and new political actors involved in anti-austerity protests.

Therefore, we begin by looking at the changes in the power resources of organized labour seeking to identify their strategic challenges and possibilities of revitalization of collective action. Next, we present an overview of the contentious dynamics in Portugal, on the eve and during the anti-austerity protests between 2010 and 2013 and point out to the political, economic and social context in which they occurred. Finally, we seek to contribute to clarify the nature of this episode, raising some questions for further deepening the study of the role of general strikes as a strategic instrument of the working classes.