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Brazilian workers call for more rights and greater equality

14 April, 201440,000 workers from different sectors of the economy took to the streets of Sao Paulo on 9 April to demonstrate and press the government and the national congress to negotiate the labour movement’s agenda. Unions affiliated to different trade union centrals jointly organised the march.

The unions said they will take further action on a larger scale if there is not a positive response to the Eighth March of the Working Class, which took place under the banner: “For More Rights and Quality of Life”.

The march showed the working class’s capacity for organisation and unity, with the trade union centrals CTB, CGTB, CUT, Nueva Central, Força Sindical and UGT presenting a joint list of demands including a reduction of the working week to 40 hours without reduction in pay; abandonment of the congressional bill to increase outsourcing; changes to income tax rates; an increase in the minimum wage; land reform; investment in health, security and education; and decent work.

Miguel Torres, president of Força Sindical and the CNTM, one of the metalworkers’ unions affiliated to IndustriALL, said: “Our demands were approved by the unified trade union movement in 2010 but there has still been no response. We must therefore increase the pressure and seek greater public support for the union agenda, which is socially wide-ranging, progressive and democratic”.

Vagner Freitas, president of CUT, a central to which several IndustriALL unions are affiliated, also highlighted the importance of trade union unity, the same unity that allowed Força, UGT and CUT to elect Joao Felicito as president of the International Trade Union Confederation. He said: “There is no movement more organised than the Brazilian one. If we don’t get a response, we will organise bigger demonstrations”.

The unions have requested a meeting with President Dilma Rousseff to discuss the working class’s agenda for a national plan for growth based on sovereignty, democracy and proper recognition of the value of work. The unions will also present the document to the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies as well as to Supreme Labour Court.