Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary, Rally «Not a single right less! Confidence and struggle for a better life»

«Portugal needs to set in motion a real programme of development for the country»

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Our most fraternal greetings to all the comrades and friends, who came here today to affirm the determination of this Portuguese Communist Party to, under whatever circumstances, respond to the problems, interests and aspirations of the workers and the people.

A greeting through you to all communists in the district of Porto, with the certainty that in these complex and difficult times you have not failed to fulfil the role that should always be of a Party like ours.

On last March 15, the Party's 99th. Anniversary rally, to be held here in the district of Porto, was one of the first initiatives in which we would have participated but the Covid-19 epidemic forced us to cancel.

Since then, our Party has not, at any time, failed to respond to the worsening economic and social situation that big capital has amplified, using the epidemic as a pretext to deepen exploitation and draw advantages at the expense of the workers’ and people's difficulties.

We have never ceased to be where it was necessary with the workers, populations, institutions, fulfilling our duty to uphold the interests of the workers and people, either with the denouncement that was required, or with a proposal for a solution to the problems, but also resisting and appealing to resistance and to the struggle so that injustices did not go ahead.

We were there where it was necessary to denounce the utilization by those who sought to impose arbitrariness and abuse in labour relations. We were there to identify the problems that were faced by the workers, the people, the micro, small and medium-size entrepreneurs, the small and medium-size farmers, the fishermen, the students, the men and women of culture. We were there to propose solutions to local and national problems, whether in the Assembly of the Republic, in Local Government or in the European Parliament.

We were there when it was time to act, to intervene, to struggle.

Action, intervention and struggle so pressing, to which the party collective knew how to give the necessary answers, not allowing itself to be paralyzed neither by fear nor by the limitations they wanted to impose on us, taking all the measures that life demands.

We therefore reiterate our greeting to all of you and, from here, we want to reaffirm to all the Portuguese people that, as always, in good times and in bad times it is this almost centenarian Party, the Portuguese Communist Party, that you can trust.

This Party that is here, because it is necessary to continue on the front line in the struggle for a better life, with the construction of a Portugal with a future on the horizon!

This Party that is here because it is necessary to strengthen the struggle with the expansion of our action, to begin with, to ensure the sanitary and medical conditions capable of guaranteeing the health of the populations.

Yes, it is necessary to continue to act to safeguard the health and life of the Portuguese. For that, we presented an Emergency Plan to reinforce the National Health Service that we want and we will do our utmost to see it implemented.

We know that the economic groups that are engaged in the disease business are increasingly committed to denigrating and discrediting the NHS. Their objective is to create conditions to ensure the flourishing of their business.

In these last days, the country has witnessed yet another display of political cynicism, now on the difficulties in monitoring the evolution of COVID-19 in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley region, by the National Health Authority.

Some people, all with connections to the PS, PSD and CDS, parties that over the years, have done nothing in government to counter the crippling of the Public Health structure, devaluing its role in sanitary control in Portugal, are now emerging after an already expected situation, to call into question all the work that has been carried out to date to combat the epidemic outbreak in our country by the NHS structures.

Although not declared, the real aim of the criticism has been the same since the beginning of the epidemic: to minimise the importance that the NHS has had in combating the epidemic, to question its existence in the future and to transfer to the monopoly healthcare groups the responsibility of providing healthcare.

We are aware that those who are forced to work in degraded health and safety conditions are more exposed to the disease, those who have to travel by public transport to work, those who are unable to access and are denied the right to a decent housing.

That is why we have also endeavoured to demand measures to improve sanitary conditions in companies, by increasing the offer of public transport, by improving the public response to ensure the right to housing.

Areas where it is necessary to reinforce measures for the prevention and mitigation of the disease, at the same time as it is necessary in this epidemic context, to carry out, at all levels, the education of the need for protection and to guarantee the promotion to bolster economic, social and cultural activity and sports, leisure and socializing, which are fundamental for life, health and well-being.

But there are other and equally serious problems arising in the development of the epidemic outbreak and the use made of it by big capital in the field of rights and wages, imposing the law of the jungle on labour relations and which will be worsened without the necessary answer to overcome them.

Yes, in this period what we have seen are difficulties after difficulties transferred on the backs of the workers – cuts in wages, unilateral changes in work schedules, imposition of forced vacations and withdrawal of rights -, but also on other areas of the population, where the liquidation of the activity of thousands of micro and small companies weighs heavily.

We have stated that “in the fight against the virus, not a single right less” and that means that it is necessary to prevent the destruction of the lives of those who lost their jobs, their wages, lost individual and collective rights.

And this is a battle that we need to continue to fight, contrary to the government's action, but also of the PSD and CDS and their more reactionary proxies, Chega and Iniciativa Liberal, who, as a rule, have made PCP's proposals unviable, namely those aimed at prohibition of dismissals and the reinstatement of the bonds of all those dismissed, the full payment of wages.

Proposals that the PS not only did not accept in its Supplementary State Budget proposal, but it rejected many others that the PCP tabled in the speciality debate, about 50 proposals aiming at essential aspects of the answer that is necessary to give to the problems of the workers and of the people and also seeking to remove what was negative in the government's proposal.

A Budget that revealed, above all, a clear option of favouring the interests of capital.

A Budget to further deepen inequality and injustice between capital and labour in the distribution of national income. Imbalance that remained in the final proposal, despite the adoption of a set of proposals tabled by the PCP, which were not enough to change the negative aspects of the initial proposal.

It is a Budget that consecrates the continuation of the cut in wages of hundreds of thousands of workers, while millions and millions are channelled to big capital.

A Budget which lacks solutions to guarantee employment; to boost public investment and guarantee support to make viable the micro and small companies faced with the reduction or even the forced cessation of their activity; to expand social support, particularly in unemployment, and to ensure the means of subsistence for all who were left without these means or to provide the National Health Service with the necessary means.

But, in contrast, favours and benefits to capital and economic groups are enhanced, such as the extension of the lay-off now associated with new and significant transfers of public money, the extension of the period for reporting tax losses, new benefits in terms of Corporate and Income Tax, the establishment of incentives for the extinction of MSMEs and for concentration of capital.

For all these reasons, the PCP voted against the Supplementary Budget.

The PCP did what was necessary, tabled proposals to overcome its limits and insufficiencies, unmasked the objectives of the reactionary forces and the demagoguery that accompanies them, fought until the end so that no possibility of making advances was wasted.

The convergence between PS and PSD in the adoption of the government's proposal and in the rejection of the vast majority of the proposals that the PCP tabled leaves this Budget without the necessary response to the seriousness of the situation.

This is not a Budget to face the serious economic situation in which the country finds itself, the significant growth in unemployment, the need to revitalize the economy and national production, as was required and requires.

The content of both the Economic and Social Recovery Programme and the Budget that gives it expression, proves that the government remains bound to a policy that does not respond to the country's problems.

What one and the other of these instruments show is that on the basis of the options for the interests of big capital, of submission to the impositions of the European Union and the Euro, it is not possible to respond to the structural problems of the country, nor to the immediate problems that affect the life of the workers and people.

Like the government’s decision this week on EFACEC shows. Of a company which is strategic for the country and for this northern region.

The government's decision to proceed with its nationalisation and subsequent privatisation, does not respond to national interests. The PCP cannot agree that millions of euros of public resources are now being mobilized to respond to the pressures and demands of creditors, mainly the banks, to later return it to the hands of big capital.

For the PCP, the permanent nationalisation of EFACEC, solving the treasury problems, guaranteeing workers' rights, is the solution that is necessary and that we will fight for.

What we have ahead of us is a situation marked by the prospect of a deep economic recession, by the threat of closing thousands of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, by shooting up of unemployment, the loss of wages of hundreds of thousands of workers which demand other measures and options, short and far-reaching, only possible with another policy, in rupture with the one that prevailed in the country year after year in recent decades.

A policy that calls for the unity and struggle of democrats and patriots genuinely interested in opening up this new path that had long been needed and which has become unavoidable in the current context of the epidemic.

There are those who claim, as the current President of the Republic does, that yesterday's solutions cannot be tomorrow's solutions. But life is showing that those who talk about new solutions and have always supported the false solutions of yesterday, are not, in fact, thinking of new solutions.

They are not thinking of new policies, capable of taking a new course, drawing the lessons of the disaster of the last decades of the right-wing policy of governments from the rotation of alternance without alternative, which weakened the country and made it increasingly dependent.

They are thinking of going back and fully restoring their system of mutual connivances and convergences in the core matters of government action.

They are thinking of breathing new life to the so-called “central bloc”, which can be formal or informal, but which will always be as it was in the past “the central bloc of political and economic interests”. This is what is underway with the contribution of the President of the Republic, who has endeavoured to whitewash the PSD, the right-wing policies and its responsibilities, aiming to promote its political rehabilitation and bring it back to a role of intense cooperation with the PS.

The situation is favourable and believe it is the time to take advantage of it. A time that smells of fresh money riding on the back of the epidemic. Millions are announced from the European Union that the Portuguese people will pay later and with interest, and their distribution to big capital requires concertation and replacement of the old close cooperation.

Big capital does not bother if the projects serve Portugal. If the agenda that is linked to the millions is the agenda of the directorate of the great powers or of the Franco-German axis for their own interests. What they want is to ensure their share of the pie of the big businesses.

The measures of the so-called "recovery fund" announced by the European Commission, and not materialised, do not mean any change of course, in relation to the usual policies. Riddled with hypocrisy and financial and political manipulations, these measures do not cancel the line of debt, and essentially aim to increase the syphoning of public resources to the monopolies, namely from the main economic powers, and to take steps to deepen the transfer of portions of national sovereignty to the supranational sphere.

Portugal needs to set in motion a real development programme for the country, but not a programme dictated by the criteria and agenda chosen and guided by the great powers of the European Union to serve their interests and the interests of the large multinationals.

A true recovery and development programme requires making sovereign options, holding the appropriate instruments in your hands and not depending on the criteria and decisions of third parties. It needs its own agenda that looks at the country's problems without conditionings or constraints.

Portugal needs to bear in mind and not forget the important lessons that can be learned from the current situation and that cannot be ignored in the future: the importance of the role of workers and the centrality of work in society; the role of public services; the importance of national production and having the strategic sectors in the hands of the country.

Yes, Portugal needs to produce here what we were forced to buy abroad, modernising and diversifying economic activities. We need to recover for the country what should never have been privatised. We need to speed up investment. Acquire the equipment that the country lacks, build infrastructure, ensure essential public services.

Yes, we need an alternative, patriotic and left-wing policy that promotes the turning point that is required in national life!

The alternative that does not dispense with ensuring the country's liberation from submission to the Euro and the European Union, of guaranteeing the renegotiation of public debt to free resources for its development.

Portugal needs new solutions to respond to the delays accumulated by years of right-wing policy.

It needs solutions to guarantee full employment. Solutions to reduce marked inequalities and social injustices.

Solutions that involve assuming, as a decisive issue for the country, the need to value wages and workers' rights. The general increase in wages, including the National Minimum Wage. A national emergency, for a fairer distribution of wealth, for the dynamization of the national economy, to strengthen Social Security and ensure better pensions in the future. It involves valuing those who work, but also those who worked, ensuring an increase in the real and general value of pensions in the coming years.

Yes, it is necessary to affirm now that the main and most important condition for the economic recovery is the defence of the economic fabric and the guarantee and valorisation of wages, pensions and fair pay for the work and activities of the people.

It involves fighting precariousness. It involves repealing the grievous norms of labour legislation. It involves fighting inequality and discrimination, guaranteeing the rights of men and women, young and old, of all workers. It involves expanding social protection with the reinforcement of the Public Social Security System, capable of ensuring the increase of social benefits. It involves ensuring a fair fiscal policy and combating the privileges of big capital.

It involves ensuring the defence of the democratic regime, the fight against corruption and implementing an independent and accessible justice for all.

Yes, an alternative policy is needed to guarantee the affirmation of a free and sovereign Portugal!

The current situation requires the affirmation of the objectives and role of the PCP, the realization of its everlasting commitment to the workers and the people, that it is necessary to continue to translate into action and concrete intervention the firm defence of their interests and which are the reason to be of our Party.

Regardless of the necessary measures of protection, this is the moment of emergency for the Party's action inherent to its communist identity. The workers and our people know that they can count on the PCP, whatever the circumstances. It was so in the past, so it will be in the future. This Party never stopped or allowed itself to be paralyzed in the face of the most difficult obstacles that life at the service of the people imposed on it.

We have a lot of work ahead of us and that requires having a Party functioning and intervening at all levels. A Party that does not neglect the tasks of strengthening its organisation and its connection to the workers and people.

Yes, there is a lot of work to be done: to stimulate and develop the struggle of workers and populations; to give strength to the dynamization of the initiative and political intervention, to begin with, the action "Not a single right less, confidence and struggle for a better life" and action with workers, micro, small and medium-size entrepreneurs, in defence of public services, of the right to housing, of solidarity; prepare the Avante! Festival, evaluating the current circumstances and taking health protection measures; strengthen the Party's organisation by creating new company cells; promote the national funding campaign «The Future has a Party»; dynamize the celebrations of the Centennial of our Party, making known its noble and unique history and the timeliness of its ideals and its emancipatory project and preparing the coming elections for the Presidency of the Republic.

But this is a time of redoubled work also because we have in hand the holding of our XXI Congress and its realization does not dispense with the contribution, analysis, opinion, proposal from each and every one of the militants. A Congress thinking and responding to the problems of the workers, the people and the country.

The Portuguese Communist Party is this great collective that acts, decides, reflects, always with the individual contribution, in an unparalleled democratic process. So it is, so it is being and will be in preparation for the XXI Congress, which will take place on November 27, 28 and 29, 2020, under the motto «Organise, Struggle, Advance - Democracy and Socialism».

We fight for a patriotic and left-wing policy. We fight for an advanced democracy with the values of April in the future of Portugal. We fight always, every day, on all fronts for the construction of a society free from exploitation and oppression, for socialism and communism, always, but always, connected to the workers and the Portuguese people, to their aspirations, with the confidence and determination that is based on the strength of hope, the strength of struggle, the strength of the people

Long live the Portuguese Communist Party!