Brazilian President Michel Temer signed into law Friday a controversial bill on reforming labor regulations in the South American country.He did this despite that tens of thousands of Brazilians taking to the street across the country earlier in the day to protest against government-proposed social security reforms.
Opponents fear the new labor law, which licenses unrestricted outsourcing in Brazil, would lead to deteriorating work conditions for the majority workers, including longer hours and less income and benefits.
There are also concerns it would result in tax reductions amid an economic recession the country has long suffered, with no immediate significant improvement in sight.
The reform bill had also met with opposition from Temer’s own Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB). Earlier this week, nine PMDB senators released a public letter asking Temer not to sign the bill, which they said would worsen unemployment and more.
Temer’s decision is expected to lower his popularity further. An Ibope poll published earlier in Friday showed his approval rate continued to fall and now sits at 10 percent of the Brazilian electorate.
The March 16-19 poll, carried out by the National Transports Confederation (CNT) and carried out by the polling institute Ibope, surveyed 2,000 electors in 126 towns across Brazil.
According to the poll, 55 percent of the surveyed considered Tremer’s administration as bad or very bad, compared to 46 percent in a similar Ibope poll in December 2016.
CNT attributed the approval rate drop in large part to Tremer’s recent reforms, in addition to unpopular fiscal adjustment measures and rising unemployment.
On Friday, protests were staged in every state in the country against the government reforms on the social security system. The largest protest reportedly took place in Sao Paulo, where organizers said 50,000 people took part.
Social security reform has been widely regarded as detrimental to the working classes. The government said the system, with a huge deficit, would collapse without immediate reform, unable to pay pensions in the future.
Opponents believed the government’s accounting failed to take into consideration all the sources of money for the system, which have in fact led to a surplus.
The proposed reforms include setting the minimum retirement age to 65, and requiring a 49 year-long employment without gaps for a fully paid pension.
Rural and construction workers are believed to be among the hardest hit. In fact, in Brazil’s poorer states, the average life expectancy barely exceeds 65. Brazilians can now retire after 30 years of work, regardless of age. Enditem