Speech by Jerónimo de Sousa, General Secretary of the PCP, Dinner with young people «A thousand struggles on the road to April»

«Young people connected to life who persist in the goal of transforming the dream into life»

«Young people connected to life who persist in the goal of transforming the dream into life»

Most fraternal greetings from the leadership of the Portuguese Communist Party to the young communists and to the JCP. Greetings that we want to convey to the Portuguese youth, with their generosity in defending the right causes, their commitment and mobilisation for a better world.

A greeting to each one of you and, through you, to all the young communists who are not here today, but who, every day in their schools, in their workplaces, in their associations, in their multiple activities, assume the condition of activists for the rights of youth, their interests and aspirations.

And here you are today, stronger, encouraged by the success of your 12th. Congress, encouraged by the important contribution to the great "Avante!" Festival that we held, confident in the communist ideal that you have decided to embrace and determined in your daily action and struggle.

An organisation of young people linked to life, to the youth movements, who persist in the goal of transforming the dream into life and making the April that none of you knew, a reality in every one's life.

An organisation that, in today's parade, brought to the streets of Matosinhos the many problems facing the youth.

In schools, with problems of material conditions, with degraded facilities, poorly ventilated, now that the cold is here, with a shortage of teachers and staff. Situations that we have denounced for a long time and for which we table proposals and demand solutions.

In Higher Education, faced with the costs of attendance, starting with tuition fees and school materials, the lack of accommodation and its unaffordable costs.

In companies and workplaces, due to the spread of precariousness that has become the rule, due to low wages, unregulated working hours, and the degradation of working conditions.

In the growing difficulties in accessing housing, in the absence of perspectives for those who want to create and enjoy culture, for those who want to practice sport, in the almost impossibility of meeting the expenses of raising a family and having an independent life.

In the concern caused by the continuing degradation of the environment driven by the greed of profits of large multinationals and economic and financial groups.

And in all strata of youth, the various hurdles to democratic participation that should be cultivated from an early age. Every day we receive reports from secondary school students struggling to promote General Meetings of Students to which they have a right, to hold elections for Student Associations or even persecution because they promote petitions, demonstrations or strikes.

And we continue to receive alerts from young workers, persecuted for accepting to be elected as shop stewards or trade union leaders.
But what is most striking today is the widespread mobilisation of youth in each of these sectors in defence of their rights. They are not discouraged by difficulties that are usual. They do not let themselves be bowed down by those who want them to be amorphous and resigned. They take their destinies in their hands and fight.

Problems that did not find answers in the action of successive governments, and that the PS government also chose to ignore.

It is true that, through the struggle of the youth and the determined action of our Party, in the last six years, important advances have been made. It is true that the Minimum Wage has increased, even if it is below what would be possible and necessary. That the tuition fees have been reduced, even if they have not been revoked. That textbooks are now free, although flashcards still have to be paid. That the scope of the intermodal travel pass has been broadened and the price reduced, in what was one of the most important measures in the environmental field, even though public transport has not been reinforced to take a new leap in its valorisation.

At this moment there are two questions that arise.

The first is to know whether such measures would have been possible by the hand of the PS if it had not been conditioned. The answer is simple. No! The PS has been in government before and has never come forward with these measures. Before 2015, the PS even rejected proposals that the PCP made in this regard at various times, either because it had the support of the right in the Assembly of the Republic, or because it had an absolute majority. Furthermore, the PS Programme did not include any of these measures. No, the PS, had it not been for the strength and insistence of the PCP, would not have approved and put into practice any of these measures, which it incidentally delayed and hindered as much as possible in their implementation.

And the second question is to know how such advances were then possible. And this answer is even simpler. It was only possible to advance due to the strength of the PCP and the CDU. Due to our determination, our commitment, our persistence. Take the example of transport or textbooks. Who, in 2015, would have said that it was possible for us to be where we are today? The point is that, to provide the answers that the workers, the young people, the people and the country need, we never give up.

Some of you, like so many others, may wonder about the consequences regarding each of these measures given the choices we made in the recent vote on the State Budget.

We have already stated on several occasions that we voted against the proposed State Budget for 2022, because the commitments and signs that would guarantee the answers, in the Budget and beyond it, to the problems that the epidemic made more evident, are not there.

We could not allow the Public School, the National Health Service, wages and rights to continue to degrade. We were dealing with solutions and answers, while the President of the Republic was threatening elections and the PS and António Costa were already counting on a possible absolute majority, as the prime minister himself said on the day of the debate on the Budget, even before it was voted.

It was to end a country with low wages, where the most qualified young people do not find other solutions than that of minimum wage jobs, or going abroad, that we fought, but we always faced the PS's intransigence. We have long assumed the objective of establishing the national minimum wage at 850 euros, and even so, still far from the numbers practiced in Spain, and in many other countries in the European Union. But we admitted 800 euros and, in a final effort, we even advanced with the possibility of 755 euros in January 2022. The PS remained inflexible at 705 euros. Each one of you knows that this amount is insufficient to pay the rent of a house, water, electricity, communications, which are constantly increasing, transport, healthcare, education.

Each one of you knows that it is not possible to have autonomy with these wages. That it is not possible to decide to have children. And then they talk about demographic problems!

It was to improve the living conditions of those who work that we proposed the repeal of the grievous norms of the labour legislation, namely the expiry of collective bargaining. So that workers know that the right to vacations, overtime, holidays and decent hours, which are regulated in these collective contracts, are guaranteed, we even proposed to the government to suspend this rule, without deadlines and without conditions. The government remained adamant and made a suggestion, full of “ifs” and “buts”.

It was for the young people to be able to access their own or rented housing that we proposed measures to ensure the construction of public housing and the repeal of the eviction laws that date back to the PSD and CDS. The PS did not want to give any signs in that direction.

It was to ensure different environmental policies, showing that capitalism is not green, by valorising local and national production, with more resources in public structures, with priority to public transport, to guarantee young people a healthy and ecologically balanced environment. The PS, no matter how many international commitments it assumes abroad, does not assume these paths here inside.

It was to prevent the collapse of the National Health Service, which the lords of the disease business have been organising for a long time, that we demanded effective measures of investment and valorisation of its professionals, of their careers and salaries. The government and PS remained entrenched in their position of letting this steamroller go on.

It was precisely to avoid jeopardising all the progress that has been made, which bears the stamp of the PCP and of which we are proud, that, after the most acute phase of the epidemic, with billions of euros available, as the government did not tire announcing, that we assume with determination the demand for the answers and solutions that the country needs.

It was to avoid worsening the structural problems that plague the country, which are the breeding ground of the right-wing’s dream of returning to the paths of impoverishment and hardship of the SGP and Troika years, that we assume with determination our positioning.

The government and PS opted for the interests of big capital, which continues to accumulate wealth, rain or shine, whether there is a pandemic or not. They chose to put ahead of the country's interests, the impositions of the European Union and the Euro. It was these options, it was the PS's intransigence that brought us to this situation.

The President of the Republic announced the dissolution of the Assembly of the Republic and the call for early elections on January 30.

We will face them with confidence! In these elections, the present and future of the country will be discussed. To guarantee conditions to ensure the answers and solutions that the country needs, so that it does not go back to the time when PSD and CDS meticulously executed their programme of destruction, or to the time when, freed from the PCP's burden, the PS refused all the advances that we have now achieved, there is only one way. Strengthening the PCP and the CDU.

To pursue the path to end tuition fees, to ensure more social action in schools, to guarantee better conditions in schools, it is essential to reinforce the PCP and the CDU.

To ensure a general increase in wages, to fight precariousness, to ensure the right to housing, only with more votes and more elected representatives from the CDU.

To defend culture, to ensure support for the associative movement, to continue the fight in defence of the environment, what is imperative is that the Portuguese give us more strength, more support, more votes.

We will face the elections with confidence. We are, in our 100-year journey, the decisive force alongside the workers, alongside the young, alongside the women, alongside everyone who struggles for a Portugal with a future, every day.

We will face the elections with confidence, because we have this energy, this determination of young communists, who will spare no effort to bring to each friend, each colleague, each acquaintance, each young person, the message of hope of a force that is line with the beat of every one's life.

Confidence that we base on the mobilisation, action and struggle of the workers and people that continues, as on Saturday, November 20th., with the National Demonstration promoted by the CGTP-IN, for the general increase in wages, for the 35-hour week for all, for the eradication of precariousness, for the defence of collective bargaining, for which we reaffirm our call for participation.

On this day of fraternisation, we take from here your commitment to the struggle for a fairer society, free from exploitation, free from injustice, free from the unfair inequalities that grow every passing day, despite the immense capacities to put an end to them.

From here, we take this willingness not to lower our arms in the struggle for a patriotic and left-wing policy that holds the answers to the problems and difficulties faced by our country's young people.

From here we take this huge desire to transform life, to transform the world, to take the values of April and, with them, to take the path of progress and peace that we want to build, for the Advanced Democracy and for Socialism.

Long live the Portuguese Youth
Long live the JCP
Long live the PCP