Brazil unions to protest next week against cuts in worker benefits

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s largest labor unions plan to stage nationwide protests next week against government plans to cut pensions and worker benefits, signaling growing tensions over deficit-cutting efforts.

With the eyes of the world on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Central Workers Union, Brazil’s leading labor confederation, and another four unions are calling on workers to join the protests on Tuesday.

It is not immediately clear if the protests will disrupt transportation or other essential services. They will be staged in the capital cities of Brazil’s 27 states and the federal district, according to a joint statement from the unions released on Friday.

“Worker confederations reiterate their stance that they will not accept any proposal or negotiation aiming at withdrawing or weakening current labor and pension rights, or make even more precarious the existing labor relations,” the statement said.

The decision suggests growing opposition to a spree of measures aiming at streamlining Brazil’s bloated state. Interim President Michel Temer, a conservative, wants to reform pension and labor codes dating back to the 1930s to help reduce costs for employers and foster job creation.

Brazil is struggling with its worst recession in eight decades, along with a massive corruption scandal and a political crisis triggered by impeachment proceedings against suspended President Dilma Rousseff, whose party has traditionally been an ally of unions.

Rousseff’s trial in the Senate is expected to end with a vote to remove her permanently from office on Aug. 25.

Reporting by Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Tom Brown