Major national unions and social organizations strike (again) against President Jair Bolsonaro pension reforms, shutting down capitals and cities across country.
In Brazi the Popular Brazil Front, People Without Fear Front along with hundreds of other social movements and student organizations, as well as twelve of the country's largest trade unions are staging a massive general strike against President Jair Bolsonaro’s plan to privatize the nation's pension system.
“We know that this pension reform is a fraud, it's a lie, and the working class is going to pay a high price for it. That is why we are out here,” Luiz Gonzaga da Silva, leader within the Central of Popular Movements (CMP) told the press Friday morning as the nation was brought to a halt from the strike.
Public transportation in dozens of Brazilian state capitals is non-existant this Friday and streets are empty save protesting citizens. In Sao Paulo, a city of 13 million inhabitants and Brazil's financial and economic center, burning tires along the city's main avenues have been sending up plumes of smoke among highrises since dawn.
“We closed the avenue because this is an important day for everyone. Everyone knows how important the retirement system is especially for youth, women, and rural workers,” Vitor Quarenta, a Worker’s Party (PT) activist told teleSUR. He says Bolsonaro’s proposals will affect human rights and quality of life, "especially for young people like myself.”
"Yes, we have to stop everything!" The sign reads, "The general strike did not cause chaos. It was chaos that caused the general strike."
According to local media, the rejection of the administration's neoliberal reforms are uniting those across a multitude of sectors, including bankers, teachers, students, professors, metal workers, healthcare workers, water and sewage workers, transportation workers, electricians, and civil servants from all over the country.
Bolsonaro's social security reform bill, which he says will restore public finances, seeks to raise the minimum retirement age and workers' contributions. It also includes provisions that eliminate labor protections for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers.
Currently, in Brazil, workers receive a full retirement that is 80 percent of their highest contribution during the 35 years of contributions, for men, and 30 years, for woman.
If the proposal is approved by Brazil's Congress, the minimum retirement age will be 62 for women and 65 for men.
teleSUR correspondent, Brian Mier reporting from Sao Paulo says that the president's plan would transfer the management of the social security system to the private sector and banks, based on Chile's privatized pension model.
"A man who says this is not my president: 'the dictatorship's mistake was to torture instead of killing,' Jair Bolsonaro."
“For 24 hours, the federal government and reform-minded businessmen will feel the impacts of popular discontent in their pocketbooks,” commented Brasil de Fato newspaper.
The Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) and the Landless Workers Movement Terra (MST) are also participating in the general strike affecting hundreds of cities by closing the main highways that connect the nation's interior cities, according to Brazil 247.
"The strike and stoppages... expose the struggle of Brazilian workers who have suffered a lot in recent years, first with a labor reform that made work precarious and now with the social security reform, a perverse project against workers," said Lidice da Mata, a Brazilian Socialist Party Congresswoman and member of the legislature's Social Security Special Commission.
Brazilians are also demanding the government end the massive budget cuts and adjustments to the national higher education system.
On May 15 and May 30, thousands of workers, teachers and students also took to the streets to protests against budget cuts to universities and scientific research institutes.