Wednesday is the first day in January when public employees are to start receiving their salaries, with the first in the area of finance and defence. Between now and 23 January other salaries are paid.

Public sector employees earning more than €1,500 a month saw their salaries trimmed in 2011, with the size of the cuts ranging between 3.5% and 10%. The cuts remained in place until 2014.

In 2015, the then right-of-centre government restored to salaries 20% of the amount that had been cut. The new Socialist government that took power in November is pledged to restore the rest, starting at the rate of 25% per quarter, with the result that the full amount will be restored by October.

As a result of this month's first step, the net income of public sector employees will increase by some 2% on that of December, according to simulations carried out for Lusa by the consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

In coming to power, the Socialist government pledged to "turn the page on austerity", in part by restoring the purchasing power of public sector workers.