Lula defends changes to worker rights


Source: A Gazeta - ES, 18/05/2007

Brasilia. After criticizing the carrying out of strikes in the public service, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defended labor and social security reforms yesterday, at the meeting of the Council for Economic and Social Development (CDES). Regarding Social Security, he said that changes need to be made to guarantee the functioning of the system in 30 years. Lula stressed that he will not take away workers' rights, but stated that, with changes in the labor market, rules approved in the 40s cannot still be valid today.

The president also made an emphatic defense of political reform, arguing that parties cannot fear this debate, and preached in favor of tax reform. The speech especially pleased the businesspeople present at the CDES meeting.

“Now, my God in heaven, far be it from me to want to take away workers’ rights; If I can't give, take away, I won't take away. Now, it is not possible that some things done in 1943 do not need changes in 2007, 2008. It's been 50 years, the world of work has changed, there has been an evolution in working conditions”, said Lula, referring to the Consolidation of Labor Laws. Labor (CLT) approved by the Getúlio Vargas government.

He recalled that, when he was a union leader, workers were called peons and today they are offended by this treatment: “The guys have already gone to university, taken specialization courses, they are on another level. Their conditions are different from those I, personally, faced inside a factory.”

The president argued that it is necessary to debate both labor and pension reforms, to identify obstacles and prepare the country for the future. According to Lula, if these reforms do not happen now, future generations will demand it. He mentioned that millions of young people need jobs and the job market needs to be prepared to meet them.

“We have to take advantage of the political moment to do these things,” he said.