By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – With seven votes for and three against, Brazil’s Supreme Court decided on Wednesday (April 5th) that state and federal employees of the security sector can not legally strike, because their jobs are essential for the maintenance of public order.
Those prohibited from striking include civil and federal police, federal highway police and firefighters.
“The state does not strike. The striking state is an anarchic state, and the Constitution does not allow this,” said Supreme Court Justice, Alexandre de Moraes.
According to the Justice the public interest in maintaining security must be above the interest of certain categories of public servants. For Moraes, civilian police are part of the armed division of the state, which prevents them from going on strike. “No one forces anyone into the public service. No one forces you to stay,” added the Justice.
The rapporteur of the case, Justice Edson Fachin, voted against the majority, stating that it is the right of any citizen to strike. “In the fight between the public interest of restricting the strike of an essential activity and the right to demonstrate and freedom of expression, one must recognize the greater weight of the right to strike,” he said during the session.
Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, police officers in Rio de Janeiro said they would continue their more than two month strike. According to the president of the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police Union (Sinpol), Fernando Bandeira, the decision of the Supreme does not interfere in the strike, because police continue to provide essential services.
“The Supreme should force the government to pay our back wages, our Christmas bonus, last year’s overtime and punish government officials who do not meet their commitments,” Bandeira told government news sources.