[Marxism] A wave of strikes is covering Brazil

Juan Andres Gallardo juanagallardo at gmail.com
Tue Jun 10 08:20:51 MDT 2014


A wave of strikes is covering Brazilby : Daniel Matos

02 Jun 2014 | A month before the beginning of the World Cup, publicity on
television is trying to show the "Brazil of soccer," and the government is
making an effort to sell the image of a World Cup that is good for the

*One month before the beginning of the World CupA wave of strikes is
covering Brazil*

A month before the beginning of the World Cup, publicity on television is
trying to show the "Brazil of soccer," and the government is making an
effort to sell the image of a World Cup that is good for the people.
However, what no one can conceal is the fact that while billions were spent
to prepare the mega event, the majority of the population continues to be
affected by the floods, deficiencies in the health services, education and
transportation, the lack of housing and the loss of purchasing power
because of the growing inflation. On the other hand, to prevent this
dissatisfaction from being expressed, the government is setting up a brutal
militarization of society with police, army and navy contingents in the

*A strike wave is going through the country*

In recent weeks, several strikes gained prominence on the national
political scene. The city teachers of São Paulo are carrying out a strike
that has already lasted almost a month, in which they are demanding that
the minimum wage be raised to 3,000 reales. The bus drivers of Rio de
Janeiro are showing their strength with partial strikes combined with
picket lines of hundreds of workers, demanding raises of 40% of wages. The
workers of the University of São Paulo, in an assembly of more than two
thousand workers, approved launching a strike to begin on May 27, with the
possibility of its being expanded into a united struggle of all the
universities of the state. Several groups of public workers are already on
strike or are threatening to go on strike in the coming weeks, among them,
all the federal workers and those of the São Paulo subway.

The strike of the São Paulo bus drivers puts on the national political
plane not only the working class’ growing willingness to struggle, but also
the exhaustion of the union leaderships and the radicalized methods of the
workers’ struggle. Now is the time for the bus conductors and bus drivers
of São Paulo to surpass the leaders of their union, by putting into
practice a new method of struggle that consists in going out with the buses
from the garages to block them and stop traffic in the main stations and on
the main avenues of the country’s biggest metropolis.

After the victory of the garís (street sweepers), who got a 37% wage raise,
in addition to other benefits, and with other strikes underway, it seems
too little to any worker to "struggle" for 1 or 2 percent above the
official inflation rate, as they had been doing in recent years.

*We must curb the attacks in industry*

In the automotive industry, management, that has been getting record
profits in recent years, is taking advantage of the reduction in sales to
blackmail the workers, by seeking to reduce production costs. In almost all
the auto plants, suspensions and mass vacations have begun.

Dilma’s "progressive" government is putting together a law that
institutionalizes layoffs, allowing the employers to pay half the wages
during that period, getting still more aid from public funds. Thus, the
Workers Party [Partido dos Trabalhadores] (PT) government, taking in its
own hands the historical project of labor reform of the Brazilian Social
Democratic Party [Partido da Social Democracia Brasileira] (PSDB) seeks to
extend and generalize, at a federal level, this type of attack on working
conditions and wages that previously was restricted to five months and
could be implemented in some factories. A brutal attack that we must

At the Mercedes Benz plant of São Bernardo do Campo, where the workers are
threatened with thousands of layoffs, and they are being forced to adhere
to the plan of "voluntary" layoffs, partial strikes of production were
carried out, showing a willingness to struggle, in order to resist these

*New national days of protest*

On May 15, a national day of protest was carried out. Since it took place
in the context of the strike wave that is covering the country, the
convergence of the demonstrations of the young people’s vanguard, workers’
actions and protests of the social movements, like the homeless that
blocked the main avenues and roads in key cities, like São Paulo and
Brasilia, was possible. In this way, May 15 had the unprecedented column of
1,500 subway maintenance workers, who stopped working and marched through
the streets of the city center; the columns of metalworkers led by Força
Sindical, that marched through the south-eastern area, and the massive
march of teachers, who again stopped the traffic of the country’s main city.

Since September 7, last year, we have not seen a national day of protest
like May 15. Despite the fact that the media and the government made an
effort to belittle the protests as "weak" and representing minorities, they
did not succeed in concealing their fear that the alliance among the young
people in the streets, the workers’ strikes and the social movements in
struggle will become established, not only by resuming last year’s massive
demonstrations, but with a greater centrality of the working class. A fear
that is enhanced by the crisis in the finishing of the stadiums, in the
endless infrastructure works, in the scarcity of water, and in the
explosions of urban violence in the cities that are venues of the events.

In this context, the union federations opposed to the government, like
CSP-Conlutas (led by the PSTU) and the Intersindical (led by the PSOL)
should demand that the CUT, CTB and Força Sindical call a national strike
to unify the struggles underway and take up again the demands of the
mobilizations that began in June, last year. A strike organized in rank and
file assemblies, with picket lines and marches of hundreds and thousands of
workers, raising their own demands, independently of the union bureaucracy,
the employers and the governments.

In the coming national days of protest, those unions need to amplify this
call throughout the country, by bringing their own rank and file workers to
a standstill, as a strong demonstration that it is possible to surpass the
collective mobilizations of each sector by unifying them on shared demands.

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