Brazil crippled by general strike

2017-04-28 14:00:15 GMT2017-04-28 22:00:15(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

RIO DE JANEIRO, April 28 (Xinhua) -- Brazil's transportation, schools and businesses were brought to a halt on Friday as Brazilian unions launched a full-scale strike nationwide to protest President Michel Temer's social security and labor reforms.

Buses are not running in Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Joao Pessoa, Curitiba and Porto Alegre, among other state capitals, as transportation workers joined the strike.

In Sao Paulo, most of the subway network is also paralyzed. Rio was the only major city where buses did not fully stop working, but access to ferry boats, for example, has been blocked.

There were blockades by protesters on a number of highways all over Brazil. In Rio, the Rio-Niteroi Bridge, which usually has heavy traffic in the morning, was fully blocked for half an hour.

In the local airport, there was a confrontation between security forces and protesters, and the main access to the airport was temporarily blocked.

School teachers also joined the strike, as they are one of the working classes who will be deeply affected by the social security reforms, and both private and public school teachers declared support to the strike and suspended classes.

In an attempt to minimize the support to the strike, the government threatened retaliation against public workers who join the strike, and some local administrations, such as the city governments of Rio and Sao Paulo, took the same action.

In addition, a court ordered a minimum amount of buses on streets or trade unions will have to pay hefty fines. The threat was ignored in most of the country though.

President Temer's PMDB party has congressional majority to approve both reforms, but the strike may encourage rebellion within the party.

The labor reform bill was approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday and will be voted at the Senate. But a fifth of the representatives from the ruling coalition voted against the bill.

Senator Renan Calheiros, formerly head of the Senate and current leader of the ruling PMDB party at the Senate, said the reform is "sloppy" and damaging workers' rights and will not pass.

The social security reform bill is expected to be voted at the House next week.

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