By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Most of the public transportation workers in São Paulo have decided to join the general strike scheduled for next Friday, June 14th, against the Bolsonaro government’s pension reform project and other attacks on labor rights.
Leaders of the ten union syndicates of Drivers of São Paulo, announced at a press conference on Monday, June 10th, that several unions have already confirmed their support for the protest.
In São Paulo’s capital, bus drivers of municipal and inter-municipal lines and the São Paulo Subway’s 1-Blue, 2-Red and 3-Green lines will interrupt their operations on Friday, starting at midnight Thursday.
Five of the seven lines of the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) will also be stopping: 8-Diamante, 9-Esmeralda, 11-Coral, 12-Safira, and 13-Jade; in addition to the monorail, line 15-Prata.
The combined transport lines account for 15.3 million trips per day in the metropolitan region, according to the 2017 Origin and Destination Survey.
Wagner Fajardo, the general coordinator of the MetroWorkers Union, states that there is still no confirmation of the stoppage of lines 4-Amarela and 5-Lilás, which are privatized. Fajardo recalls that the union won the right in court to represent the workers of these lines, managed by CCR.
“The goal here is to inform the population that there will be no transportation on Friday. And it’s also a call for the population to join the strike. Even sectors which have no unions have been called to join as this reform hurts everyone,” says the unionist.
According to the unions, negotiations are underway with workers at state airports and with employees at the port of Santos, Brazil’s largest freight forwarding point and the largest port complex in Latin America.
Bus drivers from Guarulhos and Mogi das Cruzes have already confirmed that they will not work. Transport workers from the ABC region will be holding a vote on Wednesday, 12th.
The Strike is Expected to Surpass that of April 2017
It is expected that Friday’s strike will surpass the one that occurred in April 2017, protesting the pension reform of the government of Michel Temer (MDB). At the time, over 150 cities were affected, with more than 40 million people joining.
Fajardo notes that this time, union organizers are more closely united and that student and teacher demonstrations should provide more significant momentum for the call.
“We hope that it will be a much more unified strike, from the workers’ perspective, and more forceful response to the government.”
Luiz Gonalves, state president of the New Central Union and leader of the São Paulo Union of Drivers, emerged from a salary campaign that, according to him, already signaled participation in the general strike.
“It seems to us that the 14th will see a very powerful movement of transport workers, whether they are self-employed truckers, subway workers, railroad workers or truck transport workers. It looks like adhesion is very large and strong,” he states.
The leader considers the strike to be national. Last week, on June 5th, the sector’s union representatives attended the first meeting of the Mixed Parliamentary Front in Defense of Transport Workers in Brasília and reaffirmed their involvement in the protests against the pension reform.
A survey by the Perseu Abramo Foundation shows that 70 percent of self-employed truckers are in favor of a strike, concurring with the position of part of the sector’s leaders regarding the general strike.