Socialist Worker

Millions of workers join walkouts against Bolsonaro in Brazil

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2659

Strikers in Rio de Janeiro during a general strike last week

Strikers in Rio de Janeiro during a general strike last week (Pic: @ptbrasil/Twitter)


Millions of workers struck in Brazil on Friday of last week against bigoted president Jair Bolsonaro’s pension reforms.

There were protests in some 380 towns and cities across the country. Strikers and their supporters blocked roads in many of them.

Burning barriers were erected in some places and workers picketed highway toll booths as well as other workplaces.

Police used stun grenades on protesters in Rio de Janeiro.

The public transport system was particularly badly hit by the walkouts in many cities.

According to the CUT trade union some 45 million workers took part in the strike.

Some workplaces around Sao Paulo saw 98 percent of the workforce walk out.

Bolsonaro’s pension “reforms” are based on some £188 billion in cuts to public spending.

Workers are expected to pay for them through an increase in the retirement age to 65 for men and 62 for women and an increase in contributions.

To receive their full pension entitlement workers would have to work for 40 years.

Entitled

And to be entitled to any pension at all they would have to work a minimum of 20 years.

Teacher Marcio Pereira de Souza said the changes will benefit “the big banks and companies, but not the workers”.

Many of the people who came out had mobilised previously for the protests against the Bolsonaro government’s savage education cuts.

A strike on 15 May followed by a mobilisation by the national union of students on 30 May has put students and education workers at the forefront of a movement against him.

The strike comes as Bolsonaro is under increasing pressure. His son is being investigated for taking potentially corrupt payments along with his former driver.

Bolsonaro’s supporters tried to mobilise in his defence on 26 May, but they received limited support. And he has the lowest approval rating of any sitting president.

Brazil’s parliament, Congress, is expected to vote on the pension changes in the next few weeks.

The splits inside the ruling class were emphasised last Sunday as Joaquim Levy, the head of Brazil’s powerful state development bank, quit his post. This came after Bolsonaro said he had a “price on his head”.

Levy is the fourth senior official to leave since Bolsonaro’s inauguration in January

More militant opposition to his rule can crack his rotten, racist government.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'


Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.