In Portugal, the General workers Union (UGT) opened its first congress on Saturday (27 January) with the aim of breaking the grip of organised labour held by the Communists.
In Portugal, the General workers Union (UGT) opened its first congress on Saturday (27 January) with the aim of breaking the grip of organised labour held by the Communists. At the same time the Communist Party was staging a rival meeting in the same city -- Oporto.
SYNOPSIS: Senor Alvaro Cunhal, the Communist Party's Secretary General, received a noisy reception from party supporters.
He delivered a speech attacking the policies of the government, and the General Workers Union.
He alleged that the UGT was receiving millions of West German marks and American dollars to keep it going. And he claimed that its constitution had been formed illegally.
At their congress, held in an Oporto cinema, the members of the General Workers Union were addressed by Socialist leader, Mario Soares, and officials of other centre and conservative parties. The union was formed last October with the support of the Socialists, the Centre Democrats and the Social Democrats. It was seen as a democratic alternative to the Communist General Confederation of Portuguese Workers, and so far its members have been drawn mostly from white-collar unions. Earlier in January it won the support of the Lisbon Office Workers Union.
Foreign Labour movements were also represented at the congress, including the Chilean Federation of Trade Unions, in the person of Luis Meneces.
Vitor botelho of UGT told his audience that the union answered the need of workers for a body concerned with their living standards rather than an instrument of political party control.