ANDST Portugal situation report 2004

Portugal is a beautiful country with more than ten million inhabitants. Its borders are Spain and the Atlantic Ocean. After a long period of fascism, Portugal is now a democratic country, since 1974, whose fundamental Law - the Constitution of the Republic, is one of the most generous in Europe. It is an European Union member since 1986. Considering its scientific and technological delay (due to 40 years of fascist dictatorship), it's a developing country , but it's still the least developed country of the European Union. At the moment, it's going through a serious social and economical crisis, owing to a two-year long recession, which results into increasing unemployment, more than 6%, and affects the population´ s life standard. The centre right wing government, elected two years ago, persists in a neo-- liberal policy with negative reflections on the quality of life of the working class, in particular of the poorest ones.

However, our country has potential enough to rise above the persisting crisis.

The current political and economical situation of the country, has its reflection on the quality of life of disabled people, whose number exceeds one million, (10% of the population) and of their families, namely in what concerns their basic needs, such as:

  • Retiring pension allowing a life with a minimum of dignity
  • Access to compensation means (prosthesis and wheelchairs, etc) to allow a reasonable quality of life.
  • Creation of more rehabilitation centres, (there is only one rehabilitation public centre of quality in the South of the country)
  • Existence of many physical barriers in buildings
  • Inexistence of adapted public transports
  • Difficulties in the access to special and integrated education
  • Insufficiency of professional training Centres
  • Difficulties in the access to the normal working market

Despite all this, we have in Portugal a legislative frame guaranteeing the disabled people´ s rights , set out with the participation of the disabled people´ s organizations that, although not perfect, can be considered one of the best in Europe .

What is missing is the political will of the Government and the State to apply the laws in force, or their regulation.

In general, in Portugal , disabled people are still badly organized (only after 1974, the year of the revolution that put an end to fascism, was it possible for disabled people to create associations to defend their rights), they haven't a fighting tradition and their mobilization has proved to be difficult

The Associations with a indicative character, like ANDST, have little support from the Government, and because of this, they suffer from financial difficulties and from the lack of qualified human resources to defend the interests and the rights of their members.



Portugal is known as the European country where the largest number of working accidents takes place. An international study reports, that in Portugal , the number of working accidents, in percentage, is twice the number of the accidents occurring in Europe .

Portugal is one of the few European countries in which the compensation for damages caused by working accidents is the responsibility of private entities, Insurance Companies. This means increased difficulties for the satisfaction of the rights of the victims from professional risks, on account of the economic power of the Insurance Companies, which have the best lawyers at their disposal in opposition to the working accidents´ victims that can't afford lawyers or doctors to defend their rights.

At the moment, the ANDST has 10.395 members (December 2003), but only one half pays an annual quota of six euros. It's the second largest association of disabled people in Portugal .

The national headquarter office is in O Porto city, with delegations in Lisbon , Coimbra and Leiria. It has seven workers at national level, which is clearly insufficient for its needs.

In this moment, a project, presented by ANDST, of psychotherapeutic support to our associates and their families, is being studied by the Government . We hope to get financing for its implementation.

Our main worries are:

  • The high number of working accidents and professional diseases.
  • The very small allowances that professional risks´ victims receive.
  • Difficulties in the access to rehabilitation and functional recovery centres
  • Lack of psychotherapeutic support, mainly to the most disabled and their families
  • Difficulties in the access to professional training centres
  • Difficulties in professional re- arrangement
  • The high number of unemployed injured persons

In order to defend, in a more efficient way, the rights of disabled people, the disabled and their organizations created a National Confederation in 1981, named CNOD- “National Confederation of the Disabled Organisations”, that has been the interlocutor to the Government, for the general issues of deficiency and that represents Portugal in the European Disability Forum.

Although the general situation of disabled people is not very encouraging, we have reasons to believe that, with unity and determination, the disabled people will find the way to justice and fraternity, which will lead to a society without exclusions.



  • Analysis of the European Year of People with Disabilities
  • Brief analysis of the disabled people social and economical situation in general, at European level
  • Analysis, at European level, of the prevention and compensation of professional risks
  • Creation of a working group for the study of compared law of professional diseases and accidents compensation.
Back to FIMITIC Board meeting and Seminar in Portugal: Disabled People in urgent need of reforms