Representatives of more than 170 civil organizations demonstrated at Brazil's Chamber of Deputies Tuesday (March 14) against the pension system reform proposal being discussed by a special committee at the house. The protesters presented an open letter to the head of the committee, Carlos Marun (PMDB), asking them to dismiss a constitution amendment bill (PEC 287) to overhaul the rules of the country's pension system.
The letter argued that the bill “is based on false premises and violates social rights in many ways.” They also urged the lawmakers to discuss the matter with the society to work out alternatives for improving the social security system and stop the drive to revoke social rights.
Moreover, they went on, the reform proposal will disfigure the pensions system and make retirement and other social security benefits difficult to attain. The main objections include a minimum eligibility age of 65 for men and women to retire, a requirement of 49 years of contribution into the pension system as a condition of eligibility to the full amount of the retirement benefit; and fixing bereavement and welfare benefit amounts below that of the minimum wage currently in effect.
After the demonstration, Claudio Lamachia, federal head of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), urged discussing the matter further before putting a bill to change the pension system to vote. “We understand a reform is needed, but it cannot be a setback or threaten people's rights.”
Lamachia said there are unanswered questions that should be addressed. “The very question as to the existence of a social security deficit in the first place. This is an issue that calls for transparent debate, and that's what we ask of this House,” he explained.
“We are here to say, in an orderly, organized, and clear manner, we want this matter to be discussed more transparently.” For Lamachia, the pension reform is too relevant an issue to be put to vote in parliament without listening to the society.
Translated by Mayra Borges