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  HOME | Brazil (Click here for more)

Protesters Block Roads at Start of Nationwide General Strike in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO Ė Hundreds of people blocked on Friday main thoroughfares and roads leading to Brazilís largest cities in the early hours of a general strike called to protest the governmentís planned labor and pension overhauls.

The demonstrations began in the pre-dawn hours in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Porto Alegre, Natal and Goiania, according to state military police forces.

The general strike is the second in just two months to protest the policies of President Michel Temer, who since taking office last year has carried out an austerity drive that he says is aimed at getting Brazilís economic house in order.

His tough fiscal measures have included the enactment of a spending cap that limits public spending to inflation for the next 20 years.

Temerís administration now is seeking to push through an overhaul of Brazilís generous pension system and a labor reform bill that would usher in lower labor costs for businesses and lend legal legitimacy to contracts reached by companies and workers via collective bargaining.

Those contracts would be valid even if they contradict some aspects of the labor code providing strict workersí rights protections.

Some unions also are calling for the resignation of Temer, who on Monday became the first sitting president in Brazilian history to face criminal charges.

Temer is in legal hot water after the nationís attorney general Rodrigo Janot, charged him with accepting around $150,000 in bribes from the former chairman of Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS, Joesley Batista, who leveled the accusations as part of a plea deal with prosecutors.

An earlier general strike on April 28 Ė the first in 20 years Ė led to violent clashes in several cities.

 

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