Massive protests rocked Brazil on November 10 as several thousands of workers took to the streets in 24 state capitals and in the Federal District, protesting against new labour rules that leave workers unprotected while benefitting big businesses.
A day before the labour reform came into effect on November 11, trade union confederations gave the call for a nationwide Day of Struggle against Labor Reform. On social media, the hashtag #derrubareforma (down with the reform) was trending on November 10 in Brazil.
Brazilians are protesting against labour and pension reforms. While the labour reform was approved in July as part of the austerity move by the coup government led by President Michel Temer from the Democratic Movement Party, the pension reform is still being negotiated in the National Congress.
The reform replaces more than 100 points of the existing Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLL) with a norm that regulates the labour relations, according to The Dawn News.
Trade unionists describe the labour reform as a regression on years of workers’ struggles in Brazil.
“More than a reform, it is taking away the rights of the people that were won after many decades of struggle like in the case of the CLL,” said Victor Frota da Silva, director of the Urban Trade Union of the Federal District, quoted by The Dawn News.
“The consequences will cause an increase in slave labor, an increase in violence in the countryside, increased precarity of work, decrease of income of workers and increase of conflicts,” Aristides Veras, President of the National Confederation of Agricultural Workers told the news network.
Latin American network teleSUR English quoted Clemente Ganz Lucio, director of Intersindical Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies, “It creates instruments to legalize practices that make work precarious, reduce or prevent union protection and leave the worker exposed to the coercion of companies in the definition of their rights.”
Trade unions are also mobilising people against the pension reform. Silva told The Dawn News that it was possible to stop the pension reform with the election of a people’s candidate in 2018.
The Forum of Trade Unions said in a statement, as per teleSUR, that it was against the retirement system reform. They said they were against “government regulations that modify the concept of work similar to slavery.”Among other objections, the social security reform is criticised for establishing a minimum age of retirement regardless of how many years one has worked, which will in practice make poorer people work for many more years and retire with lower pensions, reported the IANS.
As per teleSUR, a recent survey by the Vox Populi Institute said 81% of Brazilians disapprove of the new labor law, seeing it as damaging. The opposition increases to 89% in the southeast region of Brazil, while it decreases to 60% in the south. As per the survey, 67% believe the new legislation is good only for employers.