Statement by João Oliveira, Head of the Parliamentary Group and member of the Political Commission of the Central Committee

Proposals for strengthening the protection of rights and addressing the epidemic outbreak

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The present situation requires significant measures to oppose the epidemic outbreak, but it also calls for measures aimed at defending the rights and living conditions of workers and the people.

That is why PCP presented a set of proposals that will be discussed on Thursday. They include, first and foremost, measures to protect workers such as the banning of dismissals; declaring null and void any acts performed ou decisions made in violation of labour legislation; declaring Covid-19 an occupational disease for all the the workers of essential services; and paying to all of them the hardship and risk allowance provided in the law.

We also propose that fixed-term contracts currently being signed with workers who are reinforcing public services be converted into open-ended contracts or contracts for an indefinite duration, should the worker so wish.

We further propose measures in support of parents, namely the extension of the scheme designed by the Government to all the children below the age of 16, not only during the school term but also during the school holidays, with the reference pay being calculated on the basis of the total amount.

We also propose that the measures that are currently being financed out of the Social Security budget be funded out of the State Budget, so as to ensure the financial sustainability of the Social Security system.

We also propose that measures be adopted with regard to housing credit, namely the establishment of a period of grace for those who have taken out a home loan but are having difficulties in repaying it. This would naturally entail a postponement of the end date of their home loan contracts.

We further propose a reduction in the price of fuels. With the price of oil falling, there is no reason not to cut the price of fuels as well.

We also propose measures to support all those who find themselves unemployed and require their unemployment allowance to be extended in time. This should be done automatically, without the need to re-apply.

In the health sector, we propose that beds in Hospital Pulido Valente be immediately made available again and that investments be made in Hospital Militar de Belém, a hospital specialized in communicable diseases, to support Covid-19 patients. We further propose that investments be made in new beds in intensive care units and that industrial production be re-directed so that we may address the current shortage of personal protection equipment, clinical materials and other equipment by resorting to national production.

We also propose that measures be adopted to support farmers and fishermen as their activities are essential to secure food supplies for the population. We further propose investments in the creation of new distribution channels to meet the basic needs of people and to secure an outlet for nationally-produced goods.

We also propose measures to protect workers in the arts, culture and the sciences.

Measures to protect lawyers and solicitors, who are currently unprotected for they have had no response from the authorities regarding their social protection.

We also propose that the payment of student fees and rents in students’ residences be waived for higher education students, as they are not currently using those services.

We further propose that the State be not obliged to transfer millions of euros to the operators of the motorway concessions that were negotiated under PPP schemes. At a time when traffic has dwindled and there is a drop in toll income, the solution cannot be for the State to hand over millions to the concessionnaires.

The solution must be a decrease in State spending, because there has also been a decrease in motorway traffic.

As regards essential services, and while measures to fight the Covid-19 epidemic are in place, we propose that there be no cuts in the supply of water, electricity and telecommunications. We further propose that payments schedules be defined that should be extended in time so that households are not faced with the impossibility of paying their usual bills on top of the debts that they may have accummulated.

As regards telecommunications, we also propose that, besides the absence of cuts in the provision of such services, in particular of internet connectivity, no restrictions be applied to data traffic nor any discrimination regarding restrictions or prohibitions in the access to internet content. We further demand that the Government be asked to give reasons for any measure involving restrictions in communications, so that telecom operators are not given any leeway to make the decisions they deem fit.

This set of proposals submitted by PCP addresses many of the issues that have been communicated to us, many of the complaints and denunciations that were brought to our attention and for which we have tried to find solutions.

We know that this set of measures will not address all the difficulties that we currently face, but we aim to propose concrete solutions that address the issues that are felt more acutely and immediately by workers and by the people, so that they may be considered and their difficulties overcome.

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