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Date: Sat, 13 Jul 1996 16:28:41 -0500
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>>> Item number 6913, dated 96/07/03 17:43:20 -- ALL
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 17:43:20 GMT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
From: Brian Hauk <bghauk@unicom.org>
Organization: Unicom Online - Toronto - Canada
Subject: General Strike In Brazil Calls For Jobs, Land, Higher Wages

General Strike In Brazil Calls For Jobs, Land, Higher Wages

By Hilda Cuzco, The Militant, Vol.60 no.27, 8 July 1996

Three major union federations in Brazil, the United Federation of Workers (CUT), Union force, and the General Confederation of Workers (CGT), organized a general strike on June 21. The action was called to protest the austerity policies of the government and demand jobs, higher wages, and land reform.

The strike had its main success in Sao Paulo, the most important industrial city, where 30,000 auto workers paralyzed the Volkswagen and Ford plants. Almost half of the 11,000 buses that circulate in the city normally were idled. But banks, gas stations, and supermarkets remained open.

The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers (MST), which has been leading the struggle to distribute land to peasants and landless workers, took part in the industrial action.

In Brasilia, the capital, trade union officials reported more than 50 percent of public sector employees honored the strike. On the day of the walkout, around 150 people marched toward the presidential palace for a demonstration. In a news conference carried on national CBN radio, Vicente Paulo da Silva, head of the CUT, said that it was wrong to judge the strike on the numbers who turned out. He also added that the labor action had made demands for more jobs, better salaries and speedier land reform a matter of public debate.

In Ri'o di Janeiro, local trains did not run and most of the public schools were closed. In Belo Horizonte, Recife, Salvador and Porto Alegre, the strike was partially honored.

Organizers estimated that at least 8 million workers would participate, but were not sure of the actual turn out as the government had threatened to fire workers. Private employers announced they would deduct two days of wages for those who did not report for work.

Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso criticized the walkout, stating, Strikes will not result in the creation of new jobs.