Brazil’s Major Unions Join Movement for First Time, Strike in 150 Cities
Brazilian workers strike across the country in “Day of Social Struggle’ demanding specific reforms.
NERITA OEIRAS, TRNN PRODUCER: In the year of the Brazilian Spring, July 11 became known as the National Day for Social Struggle.
After a month with plenty of demonstrations, when more than a million people reached the streets to protest and obtained important political and social achievements, such as the investment of a full 100 percent of oil revenue in education and health, today was the first day that workers paralyzed the country and joined the demonstrations.
Centra Unitaria do Trabajadores (CUT), the national worker’s coalition, called workers to join the strikes and protests that took place in more than 150 cities in 18 states of the country. More than 80 kilometers of roads where blocked. The city of São Paulo alone registered more than 20 street demonstrations, all gathering in the economical hub of the city, the Avenida Paulista, by the end of the day.
[incompr.] is one of the most organized cities in Brazil and attracts several investments because of its infrustructure. The largest demonstrations to date took place there, with 35,000 people protesting.
In Rio de Janeiro, The Real News followed the marches. Since the beginning of the day, this city was moved by protests, when smaller demonstrations could be seen.
Banks did not open their doors, but public transportation functioned normally. In the afternoon, the protests happened downtown, with several social movements organized to demand improvements for the workers’ conditions in areas such as social security (or previdencia social), work hours, and retirement.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We have specific demands. The first claim is the retirement age. The second claim is to reduce the work journey without the reduction of wages. There are also social claims to stop oil auctions, to invest 10 percent of the GDP in education and other 10 percent in health.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Workers’ claims are in standby in Brazilian Congress. Topics that are important for us, like the reductions of the work journey, still haven’t got Congress approval. Also a modification for a lower retirement age, which was approved at Congress but blocked by the presidency. We need to overcome the presidential block for a measure that is harming 20 million retired workers in the country.
OEIRAS: The workers’ demonstrations gives continuity to an ongoing process of popular pressure to the government of Dilma Rousseff. Her party, PT, the worker’s party, was born deeply connected with social movements as CUT and MST, or Movemento sin terra, a movement of people forcibly thrown away from their lands by large agrobusinesses.
Nonetheless, the current government is largely criticized for its gradual separation from worker’s struggles and its closeness to financial elites and agribusiness oligarchies.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The spheres of power implement neoliberal politics that serve interests of banks, agribusinesses, construction companies and vehicles manufactures. But they don’t serve the interests of youth and workers of our country.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The spurious and shameless politics serve the interests of bankers and entrepreneurs, leaving only crumbs for the workers.
UNIDENTIFIED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We cannot be labeled as the country of samba, carnival, and soccer. We must be labeled as the country of education and health.
OEIRAS: In the streets of Rio, demonstrations more often than not ends up with confrontations between police and protestors. The police attacks on protestors have been widely criticized by society, which considers them to be unnecessary and violent.
Neither President Dilma Rousseff, nor any governors or mayors have make any official pronouncements about the claims put forward by the workers today.
Reporting from Rio de Janeiro for The Real News, this is Nerita Oeiras.
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