Demanding raises, civil servants threaten strike

servants protest
Employees of the Central Bank halted work for two hours. Photo: Twitter/@Fonacate

Unions representing federal civil servants staged protests in Brasília as part of broad demands for better wages. Employees of the Central Bank halted work for two hours — in what was seen as a dress rehearsal for a general strike, which could be called in March if the government doesn’t cater to their demands.

Most federal public service careers have had their salaries frozen since 2017 as part of an effort to curb public spending. Unions claim inflation has caused them to lose 28 percent of their wages. Moreover, they are disgruntled with President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to grant a wage bump to federal police officers, demanding the same treatment.

The president has until Friday to sign off on the 2022 budget, with BRL 1.7 billion (USD 305 million) earmarked for federal marshals’ wages.

Government officials fear the consequences of a possible civil servants’ strike — both from the risks of a shutdown and the impact on the president’s popularity ratings.