On August 2nd, subway workers in Pernambuco went on strike. After two stoppages, the category decided to interrupt its activities indefinitely to pressure the Companhia Brasileira de Transporte Urbano (CBTU), which manages the subway, to comply with the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which had already been agreed with the workers.
In addition to issues related to salary, subway workers also ask for more investments in the subway, which has machines stopped and undergoes a long process of scrapping, in addition to the request for the withdrawal of the CBTU from the National Privatization Plan (PND).
Over these 20 days, the agreement did not advance, but the Regional Labor Court (TRT) ordered the subway to operate at 60% capacity at peak times and, this Monday (21st), a delegation formed by federal deputies Renildo Calheiros (PCB) and Túlio Gadêlha (Sustainability), state deputies João Paulo (PT) and Dani Portela (PSOL) and the president of the Pernambuco Subway Union, Luís Soares, visited the subway installations.
The assessment of Humberto Costa, who is president of the Social Affairs Committee of the Senate, is that the subway situation is “appalling”.
To better understand what the category asks for and what the problems of the subway in Recife are, Brasil de Fato Pernambuco interviewed Luís Soares on the Trilhas do Nordeste program. Check out:
Brasil de Fato Pernambuco: Luiz, the subway in Recife has been going through a process of scrapping for some years now, right? And what are the main signs of this process?
Luiz Soares: Since last year, those who have been making a tremendous fight, even within the Bolsonaro government, in the last four years this government, it has constantly cut funds. A value was budgeted and 25%, 30% of that value came and this was causing a lot of scrapping in the system.
Today, with many difficulties, we need to recover the system and in this scrapping process, last year we were with the Bolsonaro government seeking resources, which is not a union action. It was the company that should have done that, but unfortunately the company’s management seems to have no commitment to the subway in Recife. So we started doing this movement.
And now more recently, in the Lula government, we already had a meeting with Minister Jader Barbalho, where he discussed the situation of recovering the system. This year, an amount of 260 million should be coming to the CBTU and a considerable part to the Recife subway, already in the search for the recovery of this system.
Of course it’s very little, we need a lot more and the recovery of the system won’t happen in one or two years, but between three to seven years, because the system has been completely degraded, so we need to replace sleepers, replace air network, buy new compositions, have a new substation that can serve all compositions with a much larger number.
In addition, we need to change the part of the line that is in deficit and also recover some special machines, buy new ones, because the machines we have there are more than 30 years old, so it is a real investment for us to be able to recover the system of fact, so it takes around three to seven years. And this is around 1.5 to 2 billion for us to recover the system.
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Pernambuco subway workers went on strike 20 days ago. What are the category claims?
There are four claims. The main one is precisely our collective agreement, because in our agreement we try to recover the base salary, which is out of date by around 17.7%, and also correct the base salary for the category. The category presented the claim agenda in February and in it we presented an index of 25% and the correction of the salary base of R$ 2,725.00, which today is around R$ 1,900.00 AR$ 2,100.00. So, you need to correct this salary base and some important social clauses.
After three rounds of negotiation, we closed the agreement on June 19th with a minutes signed by the company and after 15 days the company gave up, not wanting to accept that agreement anymore. We have been fighting because the proposal that was presented by the company was 15% and the correction in the salary base of R$ 2,725.00 was not what had been requested at the beginning, but there was an agreement, but it did not comply.
We have already backed down with this proposal to 7% and the base salary of R$2,500.00, but so far there has been no progress. What the company presents today would be 3.45%, below the IPCA and without correction in the salary base. So we have a specialized and very committed category, so we want to correct this salary base and give it a favorable index, above the IPCA. The company does not manifest itself.
We alerted the company with the state of strike, then we had a stoppage for 24 hours, 48 hours, then indefinitely. The Public Prosecutor’s Office got in touch with us, mediating the conversation, we suspended the strike for 72 hours, however the company did not present any favorable proposal, so we returned with the strike for an indefinite period.
Also, we want to recover the system. We want more resources to recover this system and also say that it is important that it has a tariff of R$ 2.00, because workers paid R$ 1.60 four years ago and in four years the tariff rose to R$ 4.25 and this reduced the number of people inside the metro, because we served 430,000 users a day today. We are serving 170 thousand.
As you said, the Companhia Brasileira de Transporte Urbano (CBTU) is responsible for managing the subway in Recife and for some years subway workers have been denouncing the threat of privatization of the company. What are the risks that the population runs with the privatization of the subway?
If you take an example of what happened with the Belo Horizonte subway, which was privatized, the first thing was that they fired the employees who had the capacity to do the job. The service is already deficient, because you won’t have trained professionals like you had before.
The second thing is that it increased the pass. There it went from R$4.50 to R$5.30. Another situation is that some stations have closed. Here in Recife it will not be different, we will have stations closed, fares will increase and the system will get worse.
We are going to throw money into the hands of businessmen and the working class group that uses the subway in Recife in the metropolitan region is the one who will be most affected by all this. It is in this concern that the union is very attentive and does not want the privatization of the subway, because by doing that it is as if you were leaving the subway to some people and not to society.
Our job is important, but the population of the metropolitan area that uses the subway in Recife today will be more affected. The subway helps a lot because it doesn’t cause traffic jams, there are no traffic accidents, it reduces the travel time of the worker and besides, it’s a clean energy, it doesn’t pollute the environment and then with privatization you harm that.
Read: Bus workers go on strike and subway workers stop in Recife this Wednesday (26)
Finally, what would be the solutions to improve the situation of the metro and subways?
First, this issue of the collective agreement that is in force, because we have a highly qualified workforce. Along with this, we are already working with the Ministry of Cities seeking resources so that we can guarantee the recovery of the system, which is why we are fighting for R$ 2 billion to recover it as a whole.
The third is for us to guarantee the state and Federal metro, because the Federal Government has the conditions to ensure it works well, which has financial support for this. Lastly, that we manage to lower tariffs to R$ 2. If not, we want to maintain the tariff without an increase for a long time. These are our goals, I believe we will achieve them because the category is well organized.
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Source: BdF Pernambuco
Editing: Vanessa Gonzaga