Brazilian labor unions protest government policies on May Day

Global Business

Brazilian labor unions protest government policies on May Day

Workers’ Day celebrations are taking place around the world today including in Brazil where different Brazilian trade unions gathered to protest the economic plans of the government of President Bolsonaro. CGTN’s Paulo Cabral reports from Sao Paulo.

The Workers’ Day event was organized by several trade unions and social movements in Sao Paulo and also included a number of popular music attractions.

But the main reason behind the gathering was to protest against what people here consider an attack on the rights of workers by the Bolsonaro government.

“May First is for us to remember our struggle,” Vania Pereira, a retired teacher said.

“The workers in Brazil have no reason to celebrate now because the situation now is not for partying. It’s time to unite the workers against the destruction of our rights.”

“We need to create more jobs,” Alvaro Egea, a lawyer and a labor activist said. “The government says that the labor law reform and the pensions system reform are needed to create jobs but that’s not true. And we see unemployment rising.”

Brazil’s two biggest trade unions – Unified Workers’ Central and For a Sindical – joined forces along with a number of smaller groups for the Workers’ Day celebrations and protests. Their target: the government’s pension system reform plan.

The trade unions have called for a general strike next month.

“It will be a general strike against the pension system reform,” Wagner Freire, President of the Unified Workers’ Central union said. “They want to destroy the workers’ right to retire and also remove important rights we have in our social security system, like the maternity grant.”

“All the attacks on the workers’ rights that we see happening have led us to put our differences aside and focus on the things we agree,” Miguel Torres, another labor leader said. “And the main thing is to defend the workers’ rights. So, this took precedence over whatever ideological differences we may have.”

The Bolsonaro government wants to replace the social security system with a private pension system financed through payroll taxes. It says that will put Brazil back on a path to economic development. But trade unions promised this day to resist the proposed changes with all means they have.