Parliament votes today to raise the minimum wage to 850 euros

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António Cotrim / Lusa

The PCP proposal was debated this Thursday and goes to votes today. Unsurprisingly, the left will vote in favor and the right against, but the PS has not yet announced how it will vote.

The deputies met on Thursday and one of the topics debated was the PCP’s draft resolution that proposes the minimum wage increase by 185 euros, from the current 665 to 850 euros a month. As might be expected, the debate sharply divided opinions between left and right.

The draft resolution No. 1445/XIV/2ª asks the government to “increase the national minimum wage to 850 euros” and recalls that “only in January 2019 the SMN was set at 600 euros, an increase that is inseparable from struggle of workers that the PCP values”, stressing that the value is “insufficient for restoring purchasing power“.

The communists also recall that data from the August 2021 Statistical Bulletin show that of the more than 4.8 million people employed in Portugal, “in April 2019, 25.6% earned the minimum wage national, which corresponded to more than 1 million and 200 thousand workers”.

In the plenary session, Diana Ferreira highlighted that the PCP proposal is “structural in the economic and social valorization of the country, as well as in the valorization of work and workers”.

“There is no developed country without an appreciation of wages”, said the communist deputy, adding that the increases stimulate consumption and make the economy grow and that they are “determinants” to correct the “injustice, poverty and worsening exploitation” in Portugal.

Left gives a hand to communists

The Left Bloc supports the Communists’ proposal, considering that the current SMN is “Too low“since the Portuguese take home “592 net euros per month”. If the value were increased to 850, the net salary would reach 750 euros.

José Soeiro also refers that BE wants to go further than the 750 euros that the government had appointed for 2023 and argues that raising wages is “a social imperative and economic” to reverse the “profound imbalance that exists between capital and labor”.

Unsurprisingly, the PCP’s coalition partners in the CDU are also in favor. The Ecological Party “Os Verdes” states that “the low wages have not contributed to the dynamism of the economy” and that they harm the “families’ living conditions”.

Having a job is not in itself a condition to get out of poverty“, said José Luís Ferreira, parliamentary leader of the Greens. Referring to inflation, the deputy recalls that the minimum wage “is worth less today than in 1974”.

PAN, on the other hand, is interested in the proposal and believes that the executive is in a position to go beyond 750 euros, but recalls that the average salary “has been forgotten by the left” and that it has to be avoided that there is a “flattening of the average salary to the minimum salary”.

PS indecision annoys the PCP

Socialists still do not reveal the meaning of the vote, which is raising criticism from the PCP. During the debate, PS deputy Fernando José recalled that from 2015 to 2021 – the years since the party has been in power – “the national minimum wage has increased by 32%, that is, 160 euros monthly and 2310 euros per year”.

“This is, therefore, the path on which we will not take a step back, affirming a Decent Work Agenda with an evident salary increase. In 2023, when the minimum wage is set at 750 euros, the cumulative increase compared to 2015 will be 50%. Which represents, monthly, more 245 euros and, annually, more 3,430 euros”, he argued.

The PS also defended itself on the need to discuss the proposal with partners of the social concert and that it will seek “a medium-term agreement on wages and income, guaranteeing a positive trajectory for the income of all workers and families”.

The few words of the socialists did not please the communist caucus. Diana Ferreira considers that the PS’s response “doesn’t bode well“, but he remembered that the party still had time to decide.

Right opposes and reminds social concertation

On the PSD side, Ofélia Ramos highlighted the “coherence” of the communists for presenting “every year” the same measures “regardless of conjecture”.

Remember that you are already it is not the first time that the communists propose to increase the SMN to 850 euros, this idea having been presented last year during negotiations with the executive for the 2021 State Budget.

The social-democrat deputy also said that proposing an increase in the minimum wage at a time when the country is recovering from the crisis caused by the pandemic “disappears seriousness and credibility to the PCP” and is “irresponsible and out of touch with reality“, advocating a “serious and rigorous evaluation”.

Ofélia Ramos recalled that it is necessary to “comply with the Constitution”, which defines that changes in wages be discussed with unions and employers in social consultation.

The CDS will also vote against, accusing the PCP of turning the debate into a confrontation between heroes and villains and of opposing the “good guys who want to raise the minimum wage and the bad guys who don’t”. Pedro Morais Soares explains that the discussion is being reduced “to the absurd and the irrational”, repeating that it is I need to talk to the social agreement.

The sole deputy and president of the Liberal Initiative believes that “the real injustice” is tax burden about taxpayers. “A Portuguese who pays the minimum wage pays 25% of what he earns to the State, including contributions and direct taxes”, argues João Cotrim Figueiredo.

It is recalled that a study this year by the Francisco Manuel dos Santos Foundation concluded that 11% of workers in Portugal are in poverty, mostly for having low wages or for having precarious jobs.

The investigation also showed that a fifth of Portuguese people are poor, but that only 13% do not have a job, with the majority working and one third earn the minimum wage. In the profile of the poor, 32.9% are workers, 27.5% will be retired, 26.6% are precarious and 13% are unemployed.

f1b377364fbb9b433cdce17174759814 Parliament votes today to raise the minimum wage to 850 euros Adriana Peixoto, ZAP //