Brazil: Unions, MST set plan protests, strikes

June 30, 2013

The Unified Workers Central (CUT), other trade union confederations and the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) decided on June 25, to jointly organise a protest on July 11 across the entire country.

They also decided on the items to present to Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

The planned strikes and demonstrations will aim to unleash the agenda of the working class in Congress and in ministries, as well as building on and promoting the agenda that has emerged from the recent street protests.

CUT president Vagner Freitas said: “We are calling for the unity of trade unions and social movements to engage with society and build … the agenda of the working class.”

Freitas said, as well as greater investment in health, education and quality public transport, which protesters have been calling for, the July 11 protest will demand an end to the auctioning of oil concessions, better pensions, lowering of the workweek to 40 hours without loss in wages and land reform.

The protests will also demand an end to Bill 4330, described by Freitas as, “this nefarious [bill] which would put an end to labor relations in Brazil and is actually a labor reform hidden behind a proposal for regulating outsourcing”.

Freitas said Brazil has improved a lot in the past ten years, but these improvement were felt mostly inside the home. “Crime has increased, and education and healthcare have worsened, which means worker have to spend their increased wages on private education, health and security,” Freitas said.

“We have not carried out the needed structural changes, land reform has not occurred, the political system is broken, representation is not democratic, the people are not heard, they only get to vote in elections. Society has to control the work of politicians after the elections.”

In regards to the referendum proposed by Rousseff to consult the population on political reform, Freitas said it was positive because the Brazilian people want to participate.

“Voting is not equivalent to handing over guardianship,” Freitas said. “You must listen to the voice that has emerged from the streets and which came about, mainly, due to the people's dissatisfaction with inward-looking political practice. The people can no longer take it and want to participate,.”

The schedule of mobilisations agreed to on June 25, including the demonstrations and strikes set for July 11, was endorsed at the June 27 CUT national leadership meeting.

[Translated by Federico Fuentes.]

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