Lula faces lecturers' strike over pay

May 9, 2003

Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's honeymoon period is over, say the country's university lecturers. They say he has broken promises to increase their pay and is, instead, following International Monetary Fund-inspired policies.

They are to hold at least two strikes in the next few weeks. Unions representing teaching and administrative staff at Sio Paulo's three state universities have called an all-out strike in support of a claim for a 25 per cent rise.

Lecturers are furious that Mr da Silva has given them a pay rise of only 1 per cent above inflation (which stands at about 14 per cent).

Mr da Silva is also clamping down on what economists and the IMF consider to be overgenerous pension schemes for lecturers and public civil servants, who can often retire after less than 20 years' work on pensions of up to R2,400 (£520) a month.

But Brazil's academics say they have barely had a pay rise for more than three years.

Louis Westbhal, a lecturer and director for international relations at Santa Catarina, told The Thes : "Lula must either give the workers the right salary (with a 15 to 20 per cent raise) or face strikes. The lecturers are ready to cooperate but we need to feel that it is going to give us our right value."

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