After an interruption of more than seven hours, Brazilian senators have voted in favor of the government's controversial reforms. The vote was 50 for and 26 against the bill which changes more than one hundred points of Brazil's Labor Code, first adopted in 1942. The decision applies to the basic text of the bill. The Senate has yet to vote on a series of amendments which could change some aspects of the reforms. If these are defeated, the reform will go straight to President Michel Temer for his approval.
The Senate President, Eunicio Oliveira, earlier suspended the open session after several senators from the Workers' Party and its allies occupied the speaker's dais and refused to leave. Before suspending the debate, Oliveira, a member of the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party, PMDB, and a key ally of embattled Brazilian President Michel Temer, turned off all lights and microphones, preventing opposition senators from expressing their views.
According to Brasil 247, the opposition female senators refused to give up their seats at approximately 11:00 a.m. local time on Tuesday. They included Gleisi Hoffman, senator and recently-elected president of the Worker's Party; Fatima Bezerra and Regina Sousa, both senators of the Worker's Party; Vanessa Grazziotin, senator of the Communist Party of Brazil; and Lidice de Mata, senator of the Brazilian Socialist Party.
Though Oliveira had yet to arrive when the women had taken their seats at the plenary table, house rules stipulate that, as long as quorum is present, any senator can open debates.
Staunch opponents to Temer's labor reform proposals, the female lawmakers took advantage of the first hour of debates to express their opposition to colleagues.
Meanwhile, in similar demonstrations aimed at rebuking labor reform, metal workers blocked a lane on Anchieta Highway in the city of Sao Paulo. It is considered to be one of the most important thoroughfares in the country.
The labor reforms proposed by Temer include the elimination of automatic union deductions from workers' pay, a reduction in employer compensation for abuse, and a number of measure to encourage precarious employment contracts, including allowing employers to reduce workers' wages while increasing their hours of work.
Enmeshed in a series of political corruption scandals and the general belief that his rise to the presidency was occasioned by a parliamentary coup orchestrated against democratically-elected Dilma Rousseff, Temer's proposals aimed at stripping worker's rights and pensions continue to find stiff opposition nationwide.