Social organizations from all over Brazil took to the streets on Wednesday (15th March, 2017), on the National Day to Fight against Pensions’ Reform. The mobilization was supported by by public& private university teachers, metallurgists, chemists, bankers, subway drivers, drivers, public servants, among others, who denounced the dismantling of Social Security. Which was described in Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC) 287 currently in the Federal Chamber.
The mobilizations were organized by Brazil People’s Front and People Without Fear Front, the Trade Union Federation (CUT) and the National Confederation of Workers in Education (CNTE). The organizations said that this was the largest national mobilization the country has ever experienced in the last decade. The CNTE sayd that more than 1 million education professionals will start the category strike, and the institutions would remain paralyzed until at least March 25. There is a possibility of strike continuing indefinitely.
"Tomorrow will be a milestone in the history of the workers' struggle in this country, because if these struggles do not happen now, we will no longer have a country for the future of our children" said Roberto Leão of CNTE during a press conference held on the 4th, in the journalists' union in São Paulo.
According to Leão, the social and economic context of the country, with the dismantling of social rights and the economic measures proposed by the unelected government of Michel Temer (PMDB), contribute to the proportion that the struggles are taking.
The great difference in the current political moment, according to Raimundo Bonfim of the Brazil People’s Front, is the fact that the "Pensions’ agenda is a concrete issue", which workers are not willing to give up. "In the period when the impeachment of President Dilma was taking place, we were warned that workers’ rights would be attacked. Now they are in fact being attacked, " he says. Bonfim believes that this "will be one of the biggest paralyzations of recent times".
"The government [Temer] lives in constant threat, with an unprecedented economic and social crisis, very low popularity, bogged down in reports of corruption, attack on social and labor rights. The only element that this government has is the support of the Parliament, and the issues of pensions, labor and outsourcing reforms are the three guidelines that dialogue with workers. It is under these conditions that we will have the mobilizations on the 15th, " said Raimundo.
The aim of the demonstrations, according to the organizations, is also to deconstruct the argument used by the federal government that a pension reform would be necessary because of a supposed deficit of US $ 46 billion.
Alternative studies such as the one made by the National Association of Tax Auditors of the IRS (ANFIP) show that in 2014, for example, there was a surplus of US $ 17 billion in the Social Security System. Governments, according to ANFIP's studies, started to consider only part of the social contributions, including only direct urban and rural contributions to social security. They excluded other important sources, such as Cofins, Pis-Pasep, among others, and also ignored the taxes that the government did not try to collect.
"The deficit is a lie. They simply ignore what is in the Constitution, about the other sources of income for the pensions’ system. They want to transform the right to retirement into a banking product, "said Edson Carneiro (Indio), of the Indigenous People Without Fear Front. He claimed that with the measure, part of the population would migrate to the private pension system. According to the trade unionist, the real objective of the government is "to harm the whole working class and to benefit the banks".
"We will stop this country to overturn this dismantle and tell Members that if they vote for reforms, we will pick them up at their homes. They will feel the wrath of the people and the organized movement in the next term. The congressmen who votes in favor has to know that he or she will never have the vote of the Brazilian population again, "said Indio.
Douglas Izzo, of the Federation of Workers' Unions (CUT), believes that the "population has now clearly realized, people know the gravity of the situation." For him there is "no doubt that the general strike is ripe and that we will paralyze that country" in the coming days.