Portugal's government looking for ways to sidestep tax protests
Portugal's Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho looks on before a meeting with Portuguese leaders of national business and trade union confederations, in Lisbon, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
Published Monday, September 24, 2012 9:38AM EDT
LISBON, Portugal -- The prime minister of bailed-out Portugal is searching for alternatives to his planned pay cut for workers -- a measure that triggered massive street protests and split the coalition government.
Pedro Passos Coelho took the rare step of leading a government negotiating team that met Monday with the leaders of national business and trade union confederations, who unanimously opposed the plan.
The centre-right government is trying to generate growth as Portugal struggles with recession and a record unemployment rate of 15.7 per cent.
The government predicts the contraction will stretch into 2013 as it continues an austerity drive in return for last year's (EURO)78 billion ($101 billion) rescue.
Passos Coelho wanted to raise worker's social security contributions next year while cutting corporate taxes, but says he is ready to negotiate changes.