02 May 2017

Brazil strikes in opposition to labour and pension law changes

Much of Brazil came to a standstill on Friday as demonstrators took to the streets in a general strike to protest proposed changes to labour laws and the pension system.

According to the CUT union some 35 million Brazilians did not show up for work on Friday last week – accounting for more than one-third of the working population. Thousands of people hit the streets in opposition to President Michel Temer’s controversial proposals. One of the biggest gatherings was in front of Rio de Janeiro's state assembly resulting in demonstrators fighting back when police tried to remove them. The police fired tear gas while protesters threw stones and lit small fires in the middle of streets around the legislative building in downtown.

Help boost economy

The President’s administration argues that more flexible labour rules will help inject life into a lacklustre economy in recession warning that the pension system will go bankrupt without changes. Figures just out from IBGE statistics agency showed that unemployment had jumped to 13.7 per cent in the first quarter of the year, up from 12 per cent. However unions disgaree suggesting that the changes currently before Congress will make workers too vulnerable and take away too many benefits.