LISBON, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Over 70 eminent Portuguese statesmen and public figures including former President Mario Soares have sent an open letter calling for Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to resign.
The open letter, which was also sent to President Cavaco Silva Thursday said, "It is a contradiction, never seen before in this country, between what was promised during the election campaign and what is being put into effect," and "voters were intentionally defrauded."
The government "is walking the country into the abyss with a budget that is wicked, condemnable and socially unjust," the letter continued.
The petition, signed by several Socialist Party members, urges the prime minister to "urgently change his policies" or "failing that, do what is in the national interest ... and offer his resignation to the president of the republic."
The letter was sent amid continued protests by dock workers. The government announced that strikes at the national ports going on for more than three months have cost 1.2 billion euros (1.6 billion U.S. dollars).
"According to the estimates of our research department, the strikes have cost about 400 million euros per month," said Economy Minister Alvaro Santos Pereira Thursday in Parliament.
The economy minister was responding to questions during a debate on the new labor law for the port sector which was approved later Thursday.
The new law is being strongly contested by the dockers union and opposition parliamentary groups such as the Portuguese Communist Party and the Left Bloc.
Several dozen port workers rallied Thursday afternoon in front of Lisbon's Town Hall in a protest against the new labor reforms, and were supported by union members from across Europe, including Denmark and France.
The protesters, wearing fluorescent vests with multiple signs in various languages, remained peaceful with some firecrackers reported but without incident. (1 euro = 1.30 U.S. dollars)