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Tue Mar 19, 2019, 01:49 PM

Brazil's Labor Unions Prepare for War with Far-Right President Jair Bolsanaro

MARCH 19, 2019
Brazil’s Labor Unions Prepare for War with Far-Right President Jair Bolsanaro
Bolsanaro has lowered the minimum wage, dismantled labor law enforcement and is threatening pension cuts.


FLORIANÓPOLIS, BRAZIL—On a gray afternoon in early February, 60 local leaders from roughly 40 unions meet at the tan, seven-story headquarters of the Santa Catarina State Commerce Workers Federation to discuss how to move forward under Brazil’s new, far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro. They represent metalworkers, teachers and just about everything in between. Similar meetings have been held around the country.

Since Bolsonaro's inauguration January 1, he has unleashed an assault on workers and unions. He lowered the minimum wage (despite inflation) and closed the country’s 88-year-old Ministry of Labor. The sign was quickly taken down from the government building in Brasilia.

“There is an excess of rights,” Bolsonaro has said of labor.

At the Florianópolis meeting, behind a long table hung with red, yellow and white union banners, Anna Julia Rodrigues, state president of the country’s largest labor federation, CUT, calls for unity. “We have to unite, or we will be carried away by a dictatorial government,” she says.

. . .

“Today we are living in the worst moment for the working class in recent history in Brazil,” Rodrigo Britto, the president of the Brasilia branch of CUT, tells In These Times. “We are returning to the 19th century.”


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