Brazil: CUT Preparing General Strike for March

The labour standards which the Brazilian workers have won over the years are once again being threatened by the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The unions organised in the CUT (Central Workers' Union Confederation) are organising a nationwide general strike for the beginning of March.

Against the anti-trade union laws of the Brazilian government

The labour standards which the Brazilian workers have won over the years are once again being threatened by the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. The National Congress is discussing a number of measures which would mean limiting the right to strike of civil servants and would also allow collective bargaining agreements to undermine fundamental rights established in the Labour Law (CLT). This would obviously undermine the rights and condictions of workers in less unionised sectors. Furthermore the modification of the CLT would also mean:
- extra pay for night time work and dangerous work would no longer be guaranteed by law,
- the 50% extra pay for overtime work would no longer be guaranteed,
- maternity and paternity leave would no longer be guaranteed,
- the family-wage would no longer be guaranteed,
- the minimum wage would no longer be guaranteed.
Basically, all the minimum rights which the workers have won through struggle would be lost.

Anti-strike law

On top of these proposals, the Cardoso government is proposing a new package of anti-strike laws which would it on the the same level as the under the dictatorship. The so-called Provisional Measure (MP) restricts the right to strike of civil servants. The government tried to pass the MP after the recent teachers' strike which went on for more than three months. The law would limit the legality of strikes to one month. After that period the union would be fined and it would become legal to sack strikers and replace them with strike breakers. The MP goes against the constitutional right to strike and would also make void any agreement reached after 30 days of strike, since the strike would be illegal by then.

However, the Brazilian workers will not allow these laws to be passed. The unions organised in the CUT (Central Workers' Union Confederation are organising a nation-wide general strike for the beginning of March.

Cristiane Leyendecker, January 2002

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