Demonstrations, road blockades and strikes against the government mark the July 11, called by trade unions.
This July 11th marked the entry of the working class in the wave of protests that blew up across the country in June. The national day of struggle called by the Trade Unions Federations recorded stoppages, roadblocks and demonstrations in at least 23 states. It would be very difficult, if not impossible to find anyone in Brazil who has not participated or been faced with the effects of demonstrations and strikes of that day. Showing great willingness to fight, important categories such as steelworkers, civil construction workers, port, civil servants, and several others, stopped her chores and took to the streets on this Thursday.
Although President Dilma, with the help of CUT, has attempted to channel the popular dissatisfaction for the ploy of the plebiscite for political reforms, what was highlighted was a great day of protest against the government and its economic policy. To the claims for more resources to health, education and transport, which set the tone for of the ‘June journeys’ it were added the workers’ historical agendas, such as the reduction of working hours, wage readjustment, the end of the social security factor and inflation. A unified agenda of the Trade Unions Federations also includes the flag of the Agricultural reform and the suspension of the oil auctions of.
Protests and strikes across the country
While the journey of mobilizations that swept Brazil in June was characterized by spontaneity, this time the workers took to the streets from their workplaces and organized by their professional bodies. This has caused that significant sectors of the economy had been affected, such as large industrial centers that have stopped in São Paulo and in the ABC region(1).
In São Paulo, the metalworkers have paralyzed 35 factories in the South region of the city and held a large rally that has gathered around eight thousand workers. There were also work stoppages and demonstrations of the civil construction workers and workers in commerce, and demonstrations also in the West and East region. Major highways and avenues of the city have been closed throughout the day. In the afternoon, a unified demonstration gathered something like 10 000 people in the Paulista Avenue. In another important industrial region of the state and the country, in São José dos Campos, there were work stoppages in at least 20 plants, reaching something around 15,000 workers. A protest march in the city gathered 2000 people.
In Rio de Janeiro, civil servants of the Post Office blocked the trucks departure from the company’s main unit. There were also demonstrations with stoppages of metalworkers and civil servants, in addition to the state and municipal schools. There were also demonstrations with stoppage of oil and banks workers, as well as the outsourced workers of the Health Secretariat. In the afternoon, a unified protest gathered nearly fifteen thousand people and at the end, was harshly repressed by the Riot Police Squads. Reports of comrades who attended the demonstration informed that the police attacked peaceful demonstrators from behind, in a coward way, chasing them over a longer route. One more shameful example of the police brutality in Rio.
In Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais state capital, in turn, was practically a day of general strike. The city has dawned with bus and subway stoppage. There were also strikes in state schools and most of the municipal schools. In the country side, the strike spread to various metalworking companies, besides the steel and mining companies. In Porto Alegre, whose Town Hall is occupied by protesters, the transportation workers have also stopped. Teachers of the CPERS also blocked the highway that offers access to the city.
In the North and Northeast Regions of the country, the journey of strikes and protests has also been powerful. In Belém there was stoppage of civil construction workers and a demonstration that brought together workers, students and many other workers’ categories. In Aracaju, capital of Sergipe, Petrobras workers and public banking services stopped working that day, as well as public school teachers.
In the capital of Ceará, Fortaleza, the civil construction workers stopped their activities that day and held a rally which also gathered activists from the Popular Councils Movement, the MST (Landless Movement), the opposition trade union of bank employees and students of ANEL (National Alliance of Students – Free).
In Natal, capital of Rio Grande do Norte, in turn, there has been one of the major demonstrations on the 11th of July throughout the country. The unified demonstration of the trade unions centrals brought together around 20 thousand people demanding more funds for health, education, transportation, land reform and against the government’s economic policy.
CSP-Conlutas and general strike
While at some moments in June mobilizations the progressive anti-party feeling turned against the workers’ organizations, such as political parties and trade unions, this time, red flags have painted the streets across the country. The leftist parties have resumed their place in the streets as well as the trade unions.
Despite being still a minority sector in the popular and union movement, the CSP-Conlutas has not played only a supporting role in this historical day. In addition to being victorious in its policy of unity in the carrying out of the day of strikes and protests, the Federation had an important participation in several parts of the country. Entities affiliated to the Federation have paralyzed significant sectors such as metalworkers in São José dos Campos, civil construction workers in Fortaleza and Belem and oil workers in regions such as Sergipe.
«This day highlighted the entry of the working class in the work stoppages, with their own methods of struggle, and to say loudly and clearly to Dilma’s government that the workers no longer support being overlooked,»said José Maria de Almeida, the Zé Maria, from the CSP-Conlutas direction. In accordance with Zé Maria, the demonstrations are against the Dilma’s and the state’s and municipal’s governments.
«We want the changes our country needs, changes the people need to have a decent living, nothing less than that we will accept». Zé Maria attacked the current government’s economic policy, which privileges the payment of the public debt at the expense of health and education investments. «If the government keeps this economic model, we have to go on a general strike in this country, because today’s demonstrations are only a first step, if the government does not change, we will stop one, two, three days and go on a general strike», he advocated.
(1) – ABC region – the cities of Santo André, São Bernardo do Campo, São Caetano do Sul in the metropolitan region of São Paulo city.