General strike ends with mobilizations in 380 cities against pension reform

First published on June 15, 2019

Friday (June 14) was marked by stoppages and street acts; CUT estimates 45 million workers involved

The streets responded with a resounding “no” to the pension reform proposal and the setbacks promoted by the Jair Bolsonaro (PSL) government. Throughout the day, the acts convened by 12 trade union centrals and the Popular Brazil Front and People Without Fear gathered thousands of people in 380 cities from north to south of the country, according to the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (Central Union of Workers – CUT), which is responsible for the production of the map below (click here to access the interactive map) with the survey of the acts that marked the General Strike in Brazil.

Watch the video of Brazil during the general strike: HERE

In the capitals, the compliance of the sectors of transport, buses, subways and trains contributed to the great number of people who were engaged in the discussion of the themes that guide the General Strike.

On the internet, #GreveGeral led the list of “subjects of the moment” of Brazil on the social network Twitter. Between 17h and 17h20, a virtual mobilization took place – “tweet storm” – against the Social Security reform, with the hashtag #BrasilBarraReforma.

The General Strike of this Friday (June 14) is an unfolding of the unitary struggle of the union centrals, popular movements and progressive sectors for public education and against Social Security reform. The protests of days 1, 15 and 30 of May were also built from the union of democratic forces.

Street acts mobilized the main cities of the country

In the capital of São Paulo, 50,000 people gathered in front of the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo (Fiesp) and went to Plaza of the Republic, where the act was closed. In the rally, former Mayor Fernando Haddad (Worker’s Party – PT) commented on the two episodes that marked Bolsonaro’s week.

“What is the morality of a president who retired at the age of 33 has to impose a welfare reform such as this?” He asked during the act, which also called for the resignation of Minister Sergio Moro. “He was a partisan when he was a judge, now imagine that he is a politician. He broke the law and arrested Lula, who should be in Bolsonaro’s place as president.” The national coordinator of the Movement of the Homeless Workers (MTST), Guilherme Boulos, spoke on the success of the General Strike. “There are a number of categories of workers that have crossed their arms and stopped.” The group on the other side was longing for demonstrations. “For the leader of the movement, even after reforming the text of the social security reform, there is still a need to discuss other points. It is good to discuss capitalization of social security and the attack on rural retirement, but we want you to discuss the reduction of disability retirement and the attempt to raise the minimum retirement age,” he argued.

Laurent Matalia, a professor of the municipal network of São Paulo (SP), participated in the demonstration on Avenida Paulista and says that he went to the demonstration because Social Security is a guarantee of a minimally dignified old age. “I try to convince many colleagues that they have not yet understood that this is a time bomb that is going to burst after. Brazil does or does not give dignity to those who have worked a lifetime, and they are trying to destroy it,” explained the professor who didn’t go to work this Friday (June 14).

Former metallurgist Antônia Tiossi says she went to the demonstration to defend her country. “Brazil is very sad, first they made a campaign of hatred, now a campaign of sadness with this reform that is not a reform but is to end Social Security, the most disadvantaged will be the youngest and the least favored,” he said.

Besides the capital of São Paulo, late afternoon and night, the General Strike had acts registered in at least 13 other capitals of all regions.

In Salvador (BA), 2,700 municipal transportation buses did not leave the garages, and the service is used daily by more than 1.3 million Salvadorians. During the morning there was a march in the capital, from Rótula do Abacaxi to Iguatemi, and during the afternoon the act that gathered about 70 thousand demonstrators, from Campo Grande to Castro Alves Square, even with the stoppage of the buses for 24 hours, and only the operation of the subway and vans.

In Recife (PE), the public act was characterized as a great point of convergence of the mobilizations of the General Strike that stopped Brazil on Friday (June 14). Thousands of people concentrated in the center of the capital of Pernambuco, among them was retired teacher Maria do Socorro, who at age 72 went to the streets to defend a right that she had access to, that of retirement. “We are being attacked in the most vile way, they want to take away our right to rest in old age,” she says.

Nilza Gomes, who also participated in the mobilization, declares vehemently against the proposed pension reform of the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PSL). “They still want to fool us by calling it ‘New Welfare.’ Social security is not new. It is our right already guaranteed,” she says.

Strikes and demonstrations took place in the main cities, with the participation of workers from the countryside. In Campos Gerais, about 1,200 people participated in the demonstration in the city of Ponta Grossa. In Londrina, the unitary act had about three thousand people and stoppage of the main bus terminal of the city. Foz do Iguaçu recorded seven thousand demonstrators and Cascavel, in the western region of the state, about two thousand people.

In Natal, capital of Rio Grande do Norte, organizers of the General Strike say that about 80,000 people attended the demonstration this afternoon. Initially, the concentration of the act took place in the neighborhood of the Shopping Midway Mall, and then demonstrators walked to Natal Shopping, located in the district of Candelaria.

In the capital of Paraná, Curitiba, students, teachers and other strikers mobilized 6,000 people in an act started at 6:00 pm, from Santos Andrade Square. The day was full of activities, and by the end of the morning there had been a gathering of servants and teachers in front of the government palace. At 2:00 p.m., there was a union walk through the city center.

“We are marking an important page in the defense of our rights, in defense of a Brazil that is a country for the majority of its people, and not this Brazil of the federal government,” said Professor Hermes Leão, president of APP Syndicate.

Within the state, there were mobilizations in Maringá (10,000), Cascavel (two thousand), Londrina (three thousand), Ponta Grossa (1,200), Araucária (one thousand), Foz do Iguaçu (seven thousand) and Toledo (500 demonstrators).

The General Strike Day was marked by demonstrations and mobilizations against pension reform throughout the state of Rio de Janeiro. At the end of the demonstration that gathered around 100,000 people in Rio’s center, according to organizers, the Military Police dispersed workers and students firing tear gas bombs.

During the demonstration in the Center of Rio, workers and students intoned slogans against changes in the rules of retirement that could affect the poorest part of the country: “I do not give up Social Security and education,” “Slight step, whoever stirred Social Security has touched the whole country,  “and “Our struggle unified students with workers.”

The Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) participated in the demonstrations in all Brazilian regions. In Pernambuco, national leader Jaime Amorim told Brazil de Fato that the country is still trying to recover from the coup against democracy and the Democratic State of Law, post-impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff. In Amorim’s analysis, the feeling of anti-Workers Party and hatred created by the elite made the population identify Bolsonaro’s authoritarian rule as an option. “Now the population is waking up, you see that there is a great risk that we will fall back on the continuing construction of democracy, national sovereignty and the nation,” he said.

Altogether, the MST conducted 50 federal highway blockades during Friday.

In Rondônia, street protesters gathered 3,000 demonstrators in the capital of Porto Velho, 150 in Ariquemes, 100 in Guajará-Mirim, 200 in Jaru, 500 in Ouro Preto, 200 in Ji-Paraná, 200 in Rolim de Moura and 300 in Vilhena .

In Largo do Zumbi, in Porto Alegre (RS), workers and students closed the evening with a symbolic vote for adherence to new work stoppages against the Social Security “reform” of Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes.


The demonstrations were targeted by police repression in some cities of the country.

In São Paulo, an act in the morning at the University of São Paulo (USP), with a majority participation of students, teachers and public servants, was dissolved with rubber bullets and bombs by military police officers.

In the confusion, some people were hit by shrapnel and then taken to USP’s University Hospital, according to the university’s workers’ union. In addition, 15 demonstrators were detained and taken to the 51st Police Station in Rio Pequeno.

In the afternoon, demonstrators also reported violence by the state security forces, which tried to disperse the act, at the height of Consolation and Roosevelt Square. The prosecutor’s office has yet to comment on the case.

Still according to the union, there is no reason for a blatant charge of any kind of crime. The bond hearing, to know whether they will await the trial or released prisoners, will happen this Saturday, the June 15.

In Araucária, in Paraná, the municipal guard attacked with rubber bullets the protest of workers in BR 426, in the metropolitan region of Curitiba, near the Presidente Getúlio Vargas refinery.

Three people were injured and taken to a hospital. An MST farmer was hit in the face.

In Paraíba, a police officer was filmed slapping the face of a student, director of the National Union of Students (UNE).

In Brasil de Fato, the assaulted student told that protesters were picketing in front of the A & C Call Center company, when one of the company’s workers arrived and they kept holding the person so she would not enter the building because of the strike. Then a military police officer came screaming, telling him to “get this fucking thing over with.”

Morning was of acts, blocking of highways and stops of categories

The General Strike of this Friday, June 14 began early for the trade union centrals, for the MST and the MTST, which blocked roads in São Paulo and also organized actions in bus terminals. In all, according to the movement, there were 16 interventions. Around 7 o’clock, the homeless closed the avenue Hélio Schimidt, that gives access to the Rodoanel, in the height of Guarulhos (SP), prevented the arrival until the airport. The Federal Highway Police tried to stop the road locking by moving the cars toward the demonstrators. There were no injuries.

All MTST actions started at 7am. The most voluminous was in the João Dias Bridge, south of São Paulo, which occupied all the tracks of the road in the center direction. Demonstrators marched and held a banner that said, “No to Pension reform.”

At the Ferrazópolis Terminal, at the entrance to Faria Lima Avenue, in São Bernardo do Campo, the movement’s militants closed access to the site. In the north of the capital of São Paulo, on Corredor Avenue, they also marched and blocked the roads. In the east, the MTST occupied Radial Leste and went on to Metrô Itaquera, which was closed due to the adhesion of the subway to the General Strike. At the site, there is also a bus terminal, which remained inactive.

At around 10am, the demonstrators dispersed.

By 1:00 PM, more than 300 cities from all states had registered protests. Of the 27 capitals, 19 had the bus system affected by the mobilization. Another eight had no interruption in collective transportation by bus, but reported blockades of streets or roads by demonstrators, or had partial stops on the subway.

Workers from ports such as Pecém in Ceará organized work stoppages; refineries, such as Recap in Mauá and Abreu e Lima in Pernambuco; metallurgical industry, such as Volks and Mercedes in São Bernardo; energy; banks in São Paulo and ABC; health personnel; Eletricitários; Post offices in Rio and São Paulo; and universities such as UFRJ, UFSC, UFAL, UFBA and UFCG.

In addition to the paralyzes, the morning of this Friday (14) was marked by dozens of acts throughout the country, organized by populist movements such as the MST, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Ceto (MTST), Movement of the Affected by Barriers (MAB) Women, with road and avenue bans.

In the city of São Paulo, blockades occurred on Avenida 23 de Maio, elevated João Goulart, USP and Sapopemba, among other points. In the state were registered acts in São Bernardo, Diadema, Campinas, Bauru, Itapeva, Sorocaba, Vinhedo, Taubaté and Presidente Prudente.

There were also blocks in Santa Catarina (Florianópolis and Chapecó), Alagoas (Maceió), Paraná (Araucária, Francisco Beltrão, Cascavel and Pato Branco), Pará (Belém and Eldorado do Carajás), Pernambuco (in several highways around Recife and others (such as Aliança, Jaboatão, Gravatá, Pesqueira and Caruaru), in Minas Gerais (Ouro Preto, Juiz de Fora, Congonhas and BH), Rio de Janeiro (Capital, Niterói and Campos dos Goytacazes), Sergipe (Aracaju and Monte Alegre), Rio Grande do Norte (Natal, Extremoz and João Câmara); in several points in Paraíba; in Bahia (Barreiras, Catités, Santo Antonio de Jesus, Salvador); in Maranhão (São Luís), Rio Grande do Sul (Porto Alegre and Eldorado do Sul), Rondônia (Jaru) and Goiás (Goiânia).

“Stopping Welfare (the plan to privatize Social Security) to put the capitalization and sell in the banks is what the government wants. The central unions will not discuss the withdrawal of rights. The rapporteur’s change did not help. It continues to take away the rights. The proposal of Bolsonaro and Guedes is so bad that the rapporteur to do worse had to do a lot of strength. We want general welfare, broad and public. We want to improve it and the proposal is only for the worse,” said Vagner Freitas, president of CUT, in taking stock of activities.

Edson Carneiro, the Indian leader of Intersindical, said that the report of São Paulo deputy Samuel Moreira (PSDB) does not represent definitive advances in the proposal and that the effort of the workers and the opposition should be directed towards the overthrow of PEC 6/2019.

“Despite taking away what was very scandalous that was deconstitutionalization and capitalization, it keeps all the cruelties against women, increased contribution time, the minimum age of 65 and 62, as if the people began to work after the age of 30, as with deputies. The Brazilian people and the working class still have a lot of struggle to do,” he said.

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Brasil de Fato | Editor: Rodrigo Chagas | São Paulo-SP)