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Brazilian Unions Call Protest for December 5/6

ICFTU ONLINE..., 314/971205/DD, 5 December 1997

Brussels, December 5 (ICFTU OnLine): Brazil's trade union centre, the CUT, (an ICFTU affiliate), has called a mass rally from Friday December 5 until Saturday, December 6 in Sao Paulo to protest against government neo-liberal policies introduced in mid-November.

The unions, together with the labour party (PT), the student movement and the black consciousness movement have organised a mass rally for Friday, December 5 to be followed by a mass meeting on Saturday December 6. During the Saturday meeting, there will be a Court Against Neo-liberalism, which will present written accusations against the devastating effects of neo-liberal policies. Union members throughout the world are invited to send in contributions to be read out at the court!

The protest rally and meeting have been held in response to policies brought in by President Fernando Henrique Cordoso on November 10, when the government announced a series of new economic measures aimed at cutting public spending, raising taxes, stabilising financial markets and attracting more foreign investment. While the President admitted that the measures would be a bitter pill for taxpayers, he said that it was important to use such measures to defend a strong currency and prevent high inflation. The President was able to get his cabinet to agree to these measures by using the spectre of the financial chaos in Asia.

When the measures were introduced in November Vicente Paulo de Silve, head of CUT accused President Fernando Henrique of using dictatorial methods in decreeing measures without any consultation.

Part of the government's new rigorous US$18 billion budget saving plan includes the layoff of 33,000 federal workers, a 10 % income tax rise, plus tax rises on imports such as cars and beverages.

The trade unions say that the package simply shows that the government is only benefiting a small group of society, composed of bankers, big land owners, big companies and international capital. The unions also complain that the government is cutting down on health, education, social security, housing and social assistance. A poll carried out in Brazil's industrial heartland of Sao Paulo, which would bear the brunt of the recession found that 57% of the people rejected the government package.

Those wanting to send in contributions to the Court Against neo-liberalisam are asked to do so as soon as possible by e-mail on sri@cut.org.br) or to fax them on: 00 55 11 242 96 10.