Written by PSTU – Brasil
Tuesday, 13 January 2015 16:23
The announcement occurred after the government met with trade union centrals, such as CUT (Workers’ Trade Union Central) and UGT (General Union of Workers).
The Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff (PT – Workers’ Party), did not wait for the coming of 2015 and has already announced the first attacks on workers’ rights. On Monday, December 29th, the government announced new rules for granting benefits such as unemployment insurance and pensioners’ benefits. The new rules, which will be imposed via Provisional Measure , shall be effective as of 30th of January 2015, but will be subject to the analysis and voting in the Brazilian National Congress so that it becomes law.
In the case of the unemployment insurance, the employee will be entitled to it only if he has worked and been paid wages for at least 18 months at the same company, a big increase compared with the current six months. That is, it will triple the required employment time for the first application of the benefit. In the case of the 2nd application, this time will be of 12 months, and of six months for the 3rd application.
According to the government, 74% of the unemployment insurance is currently paid to those who are starting to work in the labor market. That is, the measure will affect exactly the younger and precarious workers, who suffer with a high turnover of poorly paid jobs and which are often the only option for those who are just starting to work.
The sickness benefit also turned to be more restricted, now having a ceiling equal to the average of the last 12 contributions to the INSS, the National Social Security Institute, instead of the current full wage. In addition, the companies themselves are authorized to make medical examinations and determine the benefits for their own employees and not only the INSS doctors. So, it is possible to imagine how the companies will make much more difficult the granting of this benefit, because they will be responsible for the payment of the first 30 days of sick leave (it is 15 days now).
Regarding the pensioners benefit, it will be required the social security contribution of the insured person for at least two years, a period equal to the minimum acceptable period of marriage. The benefit will also be cut, turning to be half the full salary, plus 10% per legal dependent (up to a maximum of 100% of salary).
The bankers applaud
The cuts of workers’ rights announced by the government will ensure the savings of around US$ 7 billion a year which will increase the primary surplus; in other words, the money that the government saves in order to guarantee the payment of the public internal and foreign debt interests to the big bankers and international investors. The government believes that these measures will be equivalent alone to a quarter of the primary surplus’ target for 2015. By governing in this way, cutting workers’ rights, it will be possible to keep most of the tax exemptions and state subsidies to large private companies.
The government announces such an attack a few months after the election campaign when Dilma said she wouldn’t touch on workers’ rights “even if pigs fly.” Before the press conference that announced the measures on Monday, the federal government met with trade union centrals such as the CUT, UGT, NCST, CTB, and according to the Chief of Staff of the Presidency, Aloizio Mercadante, “the leaders of such union centrals not only agree with the measures, but also know that there are distortions in the benefits rules”.
These attacks show that 2015 has already begun and it is urgent to organize the working class struggles and resistance.