By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After a day of protest at Rio de Janeiro’s Assembly House, the state court authorized the interruption of a government plan that would increase the social security deduction on public servants’ salaries or pensions to thirty percent of their total wages. State government officials said they would appeal the court’s decision.
“The measures, although difficult, are fundamental and necessary for us to emerge from the crisis and the state of uncertainty that our finances are currently in. With the measures we want to avoid the state of Rio de Janeiro from falling into social collapse,” said the Rio’s Chief of Staff, Leonardo Espíndola.
According to Espindola the government seeks fiscal balance so it may pay public servant wages on time, a certainty which today we do not have,” he argued.
In addition to increasing employees’ social security contribution (active, retired and those normally exempt from discounts) to thirty percent for the next sixteen months, the measures announced by Rio’s Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão on Friday, November 4th, include freezing wage increases for public safety personnel and state auditors as well as doing away with social programs and government agencies. On Monday the federal government froze all revenues coming into the state until Rio pays off its debt to the Union.
These measures led hundreds of police officers, firefighters and prison guards to occupy Rio’s Assembly House (Alerj) Tuesday afternoon. Alerj’s historic building, according to officials was badly been damaged with broken doors, broken glass and damaged furniture. The chamber of Alerj’s vice-president was said to have been totally destroyed.
Last June, less than two months before the start of the 2016 Olympics, Rio de Janeiro’s acting governor, Francisco Dornelles, declared a financial emergency in the state. At the time police officers protested against the payment of late wages.