In Brazil, a strike that has already stopped classes in 51 federal institutions of higher learning, all tuition-free universities where teachers are civil servants with tenure, is expected to expand even more this week.
The Confederation of Workers in Federal Public Service (Confederação dos Trabalhadores no Serviço Público Federal – Condsef), an umbrella organization of 37 labor unions, says that as negotiations with the executive branch on salaries, gratifications and career plans have not advanced, the strike will grow.
Thus, today, Monday, June 11, workers in technical-administrative positions in federal universities and federal civil servants in the areas of geography and statistics will join the strike.
On Wednesday, June 13, workers in the Judicial branch along with government lawyers (Ministério Público) will stop working, as well as federal employees in basic, professional and technological schools.
According to Condesf, an assembly of 300 union representatives from 20 states on June 4 decided that a federal civil servant general strike will begin on June 18 and continue for an unspecified period if no progress is made in negotiations that are taking place at the Ministry of Planning.
A march of dissatisfied civil servants took place in Brazilian capital Brasília on June 5 and at that time representatives did hold talks at Planning, but reported that no progress was made.
Besides salary adjustments, the unions are demanding a restructuring of career plans in light of future civil service exams and legislation in Congress (Medida Provisória 568/12) that would change how payment benefits for unhealthy or dangerous jobs is made and alter working hours for categories that have those hours set in law (doctors are one of the worker categories).
The strike by workers in federal universities that started everything began more than 20 days ago. The Ministry of Education has called the strike precipitated as it claims there is still time to make changes in the 2013 Budget Bill before the August 31 deadline for amendments. The Ministry of Planning has not made any comments on the strikes.
On June 5, a demonstration by university students in front of the Ministry of Education in Brasília resulted in some broken glass. An entrance door (made of glass) and some windows on the first floor of the building were broken in scuffles with police.
The president of the National Student Union (“União Nacional dos Estudantes – UNE”), Daniel Iliescu, said the organization was not responsible and blamed the problem on a minority, at the same time he complained of police brutality.
The strike by federal university professors has now lasted more than 20 days and in some institutions students have joined the strike. Iliescu says it is possible that a student council organization (Conselho Nacional de Entidades Gerais – Coneg) could declare a nationwide federal student strike when it meets later this month.
Minister of Education, Aloizio Mercadante has met with strike leaders. He complained that the strike was hasty, scheduled meetings for negotiations, said the student engagement in the movement was normal, but condemned the violence.
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