Labor Reform and Strikes to Test Temer’s Plans
This is a decisive week for President Temer’s aspirations, with possible mid-term implications for Brazil’s future.
Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on labor reform that might modernize the current outdated 1940’s legislation. The longstanding laws are aimed mostly at protecting workers’ rights but are considered cumbersome to businesses. Changes would allow for more flexible work contracts, positively improving the country’s business environment.
Predictably, these changes are fiercely opposed by unions and left-wing parties, which are calling for a national general strike this Friday, April 28.
Both the labor reform vote and general strike will be tests for the passage of pension reform, which is pivotal for Temer’s economic recovery plan to succeed.
Pension rights are constitutional provisions. To amend them, it will be necessary to hold two votes in the House and two others in the Senate, requiring a three-fifths majority in each for modifications to be approved. This is a very challenging task, and Temer was able to overcome it last year with the spending cap amendment; but his troubles with pension reform have proved much harder.
The size and success of the planned strike – the first general national stoppage called in Brazil in the last 20 years – will also test the left’s opposition power and its prospects for the 2018 presidential, congressional, and gubernatorial elections.
Complicating matters further, this is occurring in the midst of dramatic Operation Car Wash developments. The disclosure of the Odebrecht plea bargain content has implicated hundreds of politicians in graft charges, including nine cabinet members, the heads of both Houses, one-third of all senators and 15 percent of House members.
The first deposition of former President Lula, scheduled for May 3, will be another crucial event in the weeks ahead. He will testify before Judge Sergio Moro as a defendant in one of the five Operation Car Wash court cases for which he has been indicted. Lula’s supporters are planning a huge street demonstration in his favor that day in the city of Curitiba, where Moro’s court is located.
The outcome of both the deposition and the demonstrations will also have important political consequences for Temer’s government, Congress and civil society.More Testimonials