On Friday 14 June, schools, public transport, banks, universities and factories in Brazil stopped in Brazil for the first general strike under the right-wing Bolsonaro administration which took office in January.
The strike was called collectively by various trade union “centrals”, political parties (such as the PT, PSOL and the PCdoB), and numerous student unions. Its main demand is a stop to the pensions reform, which is set to go through the Chamber of Deputies in the week starting 17 June. Pensions have been used as a scapegoat, since the Temer government, to justify the lack of investment in health and education. The reforms plan to increase the age of retirement and open the doors for private banking to take over the pension market.
The general strike followed a day of action on 30 May against the 6 billion reais worth of education cuts announced by Bolsonaro. The announcements also said that the universities to be hit the hardest were the “troublemakers”, the universities whose students had organised against the government. It is estimated that those universities will not be able to function after August, as there will be no money for overhead costs such as electricity.
The traditionally well organised sectors of transport, education, banking and metal work were the most affected by the 14 June strike. All major Brazilian cities saw at least a partial paralysation of their transport networks, and tens of thousands strong demonstrations. Strikers and demonstrators also demanded an end to unemployment (which now afflicts 13 million Brazilians), the return of economic growth, an end to the cuts to education and appropriate responses to the newly uncovered scandal involving the Minister of Justice Sergio Mouro.
Last week, Telegram and WhatsApp messages were leaked between Mouro (now Minister of Justice, and previously the judge in Operation Car Wash, which sent ex-president Lula to prison) and prosecutors of the republic. In the messages, Mouro gave prosecutors tips, revealed decisions ahead of time and, notably, agreed not to allow the press to talk to ex-president Lula during the elections — to appease the prosecutors’ worries that PT’s candidate Fernando Haddad might win the elections if an interview was aired. This has caused great uproar from the Brazilian left, demanding that Mouro be removed as a minister and for Lula to be re-tried.