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Brazilian trade unions and social movements hold day of action against pensions reform

20 March, 2017More than one million workers from all sectors joined forces on 15 March to strike or protest at labour and pensions reforms that threaten their rights.

The street demonstrations were especially impressive in Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and São Paulo. Thousands of people unfurled multi-coloured banners bearing the same demand: no to pensions reform!

There were protests of one kind or another in at least 23 of Brazil’s 27 regional capitals: some workers set up roadblocks, public transport and other workers took strike action and some local businesses closed.

The day of action was the culmination of a campaign organized by IndustriALL affiliates in Brazil (in turn affiliated to the various trade union centres) to inform the public about the consequences if congress approves the PEC287 constitutional amendment to reform the pensions system, which was submitted to the national congress in December 2016.

The campaign aims to put pressure on congressmen and senators to vote against the reform. The government claims that the bill’s approval is indispensable to recover the trust of the markets and reactivate the economy, but the workers say this is not true and that the reform will reverse historic working class victories.

For example, the amendment proposes a minimum retirement age of 65 for both men and women and extends the period for which workers must pay contributions. Forty-nine years of contributions will be required for a full pension.

At the moment, women can retire with 30 years of contributions and men with 35. The minimum retirement age is 50 for women and 53 for men. A table calculates an average that takes into account salary levels and life expectancy.  

One thing is sure: the workers have no intention of giving up the fight. They say they will continue to oppose the reforms proposed by Michel Temer’s government and defend the rights they have won.

IndustriALL’s assistant regional Secretary, Marino Vani, had this to say about the day of action organized by Brazilian workers:

“It was a major show of force by the working class. It has given renewed impetus to the workers in the battle over the country’s future that began with the coup that took place in Brazil.

There is no ‘reform under way.’ The coup leaders are planning to put an end to pensions to the advantage of the bankers. Forward comrades! We are in solidarity with you in the fight to defend all your rights, restore democracy and retain the social and cultural policies won over the last decade”.