Two of Brazil’s biggest unions refused an invitation to meet with acting President Michel Temer, underscoring the challenges facing the interim leader of Latin America’s largest nation amid a divisive impeachment process.
Four other unions sent representatives to meet with Temer in Brasilia.
Temer, who had been vice president, took over the presidential powers last week after President Dilma Rousseff was impeached by the Senate and suspended for allegedly employing accounting tricks to hide gaping deficits in the federal budget.
Rousseff has said she has done nothing wrong and will fight during a Senate trial to take place within six months.
Temer will be president while that process takes place, and he will finish Rousseff’s term that runs through 2018 if she is convicted and permanently removed.
Just a few days into his job, Temer is coming under sharp criticism for his Cabinet choices, his ideas about reforming the pension system and a proposal to raise taxes to shore up the budget.
The goal of yesterday’s meeting was to build consensus around reforming Brazil’s generous pension system, something that analysts say is necessary to begin pulling Brazil from its worst recession since the 1930s. In Brazil, many public workers can retire by their early 50s.
The Central Workers Union, the largest in the country and deeply connected to Rousseff’s Workers’ Party, did not attend.
The union “won’t recognise putschists as governors,” it said in a statement that also demanded Rousseff’s reinstatement. The third largest union, Central of Workers of Brazil, also rebuffed Temer.
Combined, the two unions cover about 42 per cent of the nation’s 9 million unionised workers, according to the Labour Ministry. The four that did meet with Temer represent about 35 per cent of unionised workers.
Deputy Paulo Pereira da Silva, head of the union Forca Sindical, which did attend, said the participants agreed to create a task force to discuss pension reform over the next month.