The interim government of President Michel Temer is in the process of introducing sweeping privatization proposals and cuts in education health and other social programs, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) warned on Friday.
The ITUC cited a constitutional amendment, known as PEC 241, which is currently under review by Brazilian lawmakers that aims to eliminate constitutional clauses guaranteeing minimum federal spending in the area of health and education.
“Determined to oust President Dilma, her opponents have already introduced a bill in Congress for a 20-year austerity program, which will have catastrophic consequences for the poorest in particular and which will cause lasting damage to the economy,” said Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary
The Brazilian constitution currently stipulates that in 2016 a minimum of 13.7 percent of the country’s total federal tax budget be allocated towards health services, with 18 percent going towards education.
If approved, PEC 241 would limit government expenditures over the next two decades so that it is reduced in proportion to country’s GDP, which critics argue would translate into a tremendous sacrifice for the poor in exchange for a reduction in public debt.
“An offensive against workers’ rights is just around the corner, along with cuts to crucial social spending, handing over of key energy assets to corporations and privatization of other state assets,” Burrow stated.
In recent weeks Brazil’s largest labor unions have take to the streets in major cities across the country to demand more jobs and stronger workers’ protections as conservative legislators prepare to reverse 20 years of positive gains in the labor sector.