BRAZIL Against the « Reform » of Retirement Pensions

In Curitiba, the call from the CUT (Central Unica dos Trabalhodores the Unified Workers’ Central) to form committees of resistance against the « reform » of retirement pensions has been taken seriously. 

The far-right Bolsonaro government has announced publicly its plan for the counter-reform of the “Previdencia” (retirement pensions and healthcare). In Curitiba (in the state of Paraná), activists representing the Workers Party (PT), the Movement of Landless Peasants (MST), and unions — including a former federal MP from the PT — gathered on February 22 and decided, as our correspondent reports below, to create a Committee Against the Reform of the Previdencia. 

The “United Plenary Assembly to Defeat the Reform of Retirement Pensions” was called following several earlier initiatives that had opened the perspective for united class struggle against Bolsonaro (a motion by the PT committee of North Curitiba for a general strike, a petition supporting the strike of Sao Paulo municipal workers, and participation in the Committee for the Defence of Venezuela). All those attending were in a fighting spirit. 

Two days before our meeting, the trade union confederations in Sao Paulo, including the CUT, had gathered in a “National Assembly of the Working Class”. Before the thousands of people gathered in the street, CUT President Vagner Freitas declared: “Everyone is affected by this reform. That is why, workers, you must go and see your unions, tell them your opinion and help to strengthen the fightback. We will do everything that is necessary to put an end to this reform, but we need to build this fightback collectively. Create resistance committees in your neighbourhoods, schools and associations everywhere that is necessary. Contact the union and we will build the fightback together!” 

The participants of the Curitiba meeting took the call seriously. All the more so as one comrade explained that the Bolsonaro « reform » means no less than the destruction of retirement pensions, to the sole benefit of the financial markets. An aspiration for unity was emphasised in of all the speeches as the condition for defeating the Bolsonaro government and its « reform » plan. This is what led to the creation of a “Committee Against the Reform of the Previdencia”, bringing together all the trade union, popular and political organisations that want to defeat the government’s proposed counter-reform. A comrade from the MST proposed a monthly general assembly of the committee, and the next one will be held on March 12. The strike of the Sao Paulo metal workers, which has organised workers’ assemblies in front of factories, led the participants to reflect on how this form of mobilisation may be generalised in other professional sectors. 

Immediately following the meeting, a massive distribution of leaflets was organised at the Guadalupe train station, which, through the discussions with the workers, showed the extent of the rejection of the counter-reform, once its consequences were clearly explained. The building of a powerful general strike will need the generalised building of such committees, bringing together trade union, political and popular organisations, and not neglecting the role that young people have in this fight, because it is their future that is at stake. It is in order to move forward in the direction of this generalisation that the participants have informed the PT committee of the state of Paraná of this initiative.