Brazilians protest against changes to pension system

Contributed from Victoria

Tens of thousands of people took taken part in 1 April protests across Brazil, against planned reforms to the pension system, continuing a protest wave that began on 16 March.

Hundreds occupied the finance ministry in the capital Brasília. In São Paulo traffic was brought to a stop.

President Michel Temer took the presidency after engineering the ouster of Dilma Rouseff, with the backing of pro-landowner and old military guard parties, has taken the knife to the country‘s social welfare system.

Brazil is suffering the worst economic crisis in a century and the Temer administration argues that there must be a massive cut in government expenditure to get the budget back in balance.

Rouseff found herself for trying to cut other government expenditures to maintain the welfare system and it remains a hot issue.

The government plans to set raise the minimum age of retirement from 54 to 65.

A bill has just been passed that allows companies to outsource work for a maximum period of nine months at a time, for similar pay and working hours to regular staff doing equivalent jobs.

President Temer said the austerity measures are needed now, to prevent a future crisis such as that suffered by Portugal, Spain or Greece.

Meanwhile, a growing list of Temer supporters face corruption charges. The latest is Eduardo Cunha, the former head of Brazil’s lower house of congress, who  sentenced to more than 15 years in prison for his role in the vast Car Wash corruption scandal. He had been found guilty of involvement in money laundering and currency law evasion, connected to a $1.6m bribe he received from a deal by the state-run oil firm Petrobras.

Temer himself, stands accused of corruption, but no charges have yet been brought against him.

On resigning from parliament, Cunha said, “It’s the price I’m paying for the country to be free of the Workers party. They are charging me the price for leading the impeachment process,” he told lawmakers. “Tomorrow, it will be you.”

Brazilians are angry about the endemic corruption and want it put to an end. The evidence is that moves will be made to protect the accused instead. According to the latest polls, the government retains the support of only 10 percent of the population.

The corruption issue has fueled opposition to the social welfare changes.

Social worker Gabriel Monate was among those protesting.

“Our objective today is to block all of those reforms. The outsourcing that was approved recently by Congress, as well as the proposed pension reforms that will potentially turn the Brazilian workers into slaves,” he said.

Another, teacher Mirna Aragon, said in Rio, “We’re on strike for the future of the country.”

 

Video from Euro News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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