Pressure on the Portuguese government over the country's minimum wage is growing, as national trade union leaders voiced hopes that an increase could come to fruition in 2014.
"I want to believe that the situation regarding the national minimum salary will be a reality way before the end of the year," Carlos Silva, the leader of trade union UGT, said at a press conference on Thursday after a meeting of national delegations held the previous day.
He added that he hoped the national minimum wage would go up "soon, without involving the Portuguese in great struggles."
Portugal has seen ongoing protests against the ruling central-right coalition, with those unhappy with the austerity measures imposed to meet the terms of the country's bailout calling for the government to step down. Portugal officially ended the constraints of the three-year, 78-billion-euro bailout program on May 17.
The UGT leader's remarks come a day after Portugal's Deputy Prime Minister Paulo Portas confirmed that it was "possible" to raise the current minimum wage of 485 euros per month. The issue has been debated since 2006, but was derailed by the country's financial problems. The current amount has been in place since 2011.
"Yes, it is possible to improve the minimum national wage. A year ago, it wasn't," he said on Thursday, adding that the unemployment rate, deficit figures, exports and the country's financial situation had improved in recent times.
The government has recently been accused by trade unions of not wanting to raise the national wage before 2015, when national elections take place.
"In practise, what the government wants to do is for time to go by. Now we are in June, almost in July, a holiday period. Then August will come, then September. Months will go by and this problem will yet have to be resolved," he said.
"And then, Coelho's stroke of genius will come out of the hat to tell us he has a proposal of 500 euros, four years after the agreement was made," CGTP leader Armenio Carlos said at a recent press conference.
Portugal's national minimum wage is below both Greece's and Spain's.Another protest against the ruling central-right coalition government will take place on July 10.