Portugal - Labor



The labor force in Portugal in 2000 totaled 5.1 million. Services employed 60%, industry 30% and agriculture 10% of the workforce. In 2002, the estimated unemployment rate was 4.7%.

Between 1974 and 1976, there was only one coordinating association of trade unions, the pro-Communist Intersindical Nacional; its monopoly was revoked in October 1976. In 1985, the Intersindical still represented the majority of organized labor. The pro-Socialist General Union of Workers of Portugal (União Geral dos Trabalhadores—UGT), founded in 1978, is a pluralist democratic federation affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation. The government approves all collective bargaining contracts and regulates such matters as social insurance, pensions, hours of labor, and vacation provisions. Strikes are permitted and are commonly used and generally resolved quickly through negotiations.

A minimum wage was established in 1975; in 2001, the minimum monthly salary was $305. However, most workers earn more than this amount. The maximum legal workday is 12 hours, with the workweek set at 40 hours with a minimum of 12 hours between workdays. Minimum standards of occupational safety and health are set by law, but they are not adequately enforced and workplace accidents do occur, particularly in the construction industry. The minimum working age is 16 years.

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