Various unions strike across Brazil this Wednesday in protest of the pension system overhaul. Striking transportation workers have stalled subway lines and bus routes in major cities. In addition, there will be roadblocks on highways and interruptions in bank services.
Public teachers unions have also adhered to the strike. Workers are against the reform, which would require 49 years of active employment to receive full retirement benefits. Furthermore, the minimum retirement age would increase to 65 for both men and women.
Worker’s Party-related movements “Brasil Popular” and “Povo Sem Medo” have called anti-government marches in all state capitals.
Bye-bye Bolsa Familia
Meanwhile, the government has stuck by its claim that pension reform is necessary for the nation’s economic recovery. Temer’s party has launched a campaign to promote the reform. Rather, they are threatening to cut public programs if the reform doesn’t pass.
Temer’s new pro-reform media campaign literally states, “Bye-bye, Bolsa Família”, referring to the federal anti-poverty program. Just this week, however, the World Bank defended an expansion of the program from 28 to 32.4 billion BRL. Without the expansion, 4.2 percent of Brazilians will be living in extreme poverty.
In addition to the welfare program, the pro-reform campaign threatens to cut new infrastructure projects, federal scholarships, and social programs.
But while Temer’s people maintain a staunch position behind the reform as is, half of the special Congress commission has stated they are against the minimum retirement age. Although the president wants to pass the reform immediately, it seems he may still have some negotiating to do.