Letter to the president

Image: Valter Campanato/ Agência Brasil
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By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JUNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI*

“We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”

Hon. Mr. President of the Republic Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva,

We, professors from federal universities, came to the presence of Your Excellency. with the intention of highlighting some issues, which, in our humble opinion, were not clear in the important meeting held and called by Your Excellency. with the rectors of the Federal Universities and Federal Institutes, on June 10, 2024, at Palácio do Planalto.

First of all, it is worth noting that this meeting – although it was basically constituted as an Official Communiqué, with the deans as a privileged audience – was of great importance for the future of the Federal Public System of Higher, Technical and Technological Education (SFESTT), because it initiated a new PAC (Growth Acceleration Program) aimed exclusively at this System, which is of great importance for the social and economic development of our country.

The presentation of the issues we raise here is necessary due to the context in which this meeting took place. Context marked by the largest strike by federal university professors in post-dictatorship Brazilian history, with the participation of 95,66% of professors at Federal Universities and 97% of professors at Federal Institutes, assigned to 95 of the 109 institutions at this level in all states of the federation.

We are more than 100.000 teachers who have been paralyzed for almost two months, waiting for the government, chaired by Your Excellency, to carry out effective negotiations with the entities legitimately representing the categories on strike. Effective negotiations, it is worth remembering, are events in which the parties involved are willing to negotiate and have the legitimacy to make agreements and responsibly fulfill what has been agreed.

That said, let's get to the points:

Firstly, it is necessary to make it clear that the entity representing the teachers on strike is an entity with a long history of struggle, which has two directions: the fight to improve the living and working conditions of teachers in Brazilian higher education, who work in universities that strive for quality, democracy, autonomy and social inclusion, all focused on the interests of the majority of the Brazilian population, and the struggle for the establishment and development of the democratic rule of law in Brazil.

The history of ANDES-Sindicato Nacional begins during the military dictatorship, back in 1977, when the movement to create Teachers' Associations (ADs) took place in the largest universities in the country. It is worth remembering that this process of creating ADs took place at the same time as the birth of the New Unionism, in ABC, where You. begins his trajectory of grassroots national leadership. In February 1981, shortly after the first strike by teachers at Brazilian Federal Universities, ANDES (National Association of Higher Education Teachers) was founded, then as an entity of national representation, to the extent that the right to broad unionization did not yet exist in Brazil.

Only in 1989, shortly after the promulgation of the 1988 Constitution, the Citizen Constitution, ANDES became the ANDES-National Union, representing higher education teachers. Therefore, it is worth reaffirming that ANDES is a national union, created by the base, not from the top down, that has history and legitimacy to carry out and honor agreements that represent the interests of university professors.

Here we want to make it clear that – because we are teachers and our pedagogical role must be fulfilled under any circumstances – nothing justifies a social movement – ​​such as that represented by ANDES, with so much contribution made to the country and Brazilian democracy – being treated in the way the It has been by Your Excellency's Government, which abruptly ended negotiations and signed a spurious agreement with a notary entity, simply because some of the official proposals were unanimously rejected by the striking teachers from the 95 Institutions and represented by ANDES.

Nothing justifies that Your Excellency's government. did not even consider the counter-proposal democratically prepared by the paralyzed teachers, who rejected the official proposal, but who, considering the precarious budgetary situation of the country's Executive Branch, readjusted their demands to the current situation and presented a proposal that was completely possible to be implemented by the Government of V Ex.

We consider it offensive to our category, on the part of your government, the unjustifiable act of having signed an agreement with an entity that represents only 4,34% of professors at Federal Universities and 2,63% of professors at Brazilian Federal Institutes. This entity could not, on that date, have signed any agreement, because, unlike ANDES and SENASEFE, it does not have legitimacy, given its very low representation and capillarity, and does not have a Trade Union Register, issued by the Ministry of Labor (MT). He only did so on 10/06/2024, under government pressure, which needed to legalize the wrongdoing.

The Ministry of Labor saved the Government by issuing the registration late. This one had been in the queue to be registered for 15 years. This delay was due to the request not complying with the law, for which the registration of Federations is only valid if there are 5 affiliated unions and with Registrations issued by the Ministry of Labor. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Labor responded to the government, but made a mistake, and this could cost it the legal need to revoke the recently granted registration. But, even if Your Excellency's government redo this agreement now, this agreement will only be valid for 4,34% of professors at Federal Universities and for 2,63% of professors at Federal Institutes, not resolving the current strike.

Your Excellency, when you were a union leader, you acquired the reputation of being tough when negotiating with employers, but, on the other hand, you were a firm adherent to the agreements signed. This made him different from other leaders, who were permissive in negotiations, but did not comply with what was agreed. This difference was due precisely to the representativeness and legitimacy of authentic (based) unions and their absence in notary unions; the first comply with agreements because they are legitimate representatives of their bases, the others do not comply with them because they lack this legitimacy.

We agree that strikes have a time to start and a time to end. The current strike began at a time when teachers had exhausted the possibilities of continuing to negotiate their agenda. This strike was not triggered from the top down, but was built moment by moment and until now it continues to be built because more entities have gradually joined their ranks; strike whose complementary fuel for such growth is provided precisely by the unjustifiable stance of Your Excellency's government. of refusing to negotiate with entities that represent more than 90% of teachers at Federal Higher Education Institutions.

The outbreak of this strike occurred when federal university professors considered it unacceptable to receive from Your Excellency's Government. the proposal for a 0 (zero) adjustment for 2024. In addition to being unacceptable, it is unjustifiable, given the adjustments and salary increases granted to other professional categories, also employees of the Brazilian Government, such as the Federal Police and the Federal Highway Police, among others , via Law 14.875, of May 31, 2024. Tax Auditors and Central Bank Servants also had not only readjustments, but real salary increases, as we will see in the table below:

Tabela 1

Federal ServersProposed Salary Increase 2024
Federal Revenue Tax AuditorR$ 11,5 thousand as a bonus
Central Bank Servers23%
Federal Criminal Police60%
Federal Highway Police27%
Federal police22%
ES and EBTT teachers0%
Source: Presidency of the Republic – Civil House – Special Secretariat for Legal Affairs – Law 14.875, of May 31, 2024.

The teachers presented as a demand to Your Excellency's Government, still in January 2023, an adjustment of 47% (DIEESE), aiming at salary recovery resulting from the inflationary loss of 8 years without any adjustment, because this was the policy imposed on the public servants during the two previous Governments, from 2016 to 2022. In May 2023, Your Excellency's Government, recognizing this serious situation, granted us a 9% adjustment, committing to, annually, until the end of this Government, move towards the total replacement of accumulated salary losses.

To our surprise and misunderstanding, in the budget piece, Annual Budget Law (LOA) of 2023, sent to the National Congress, relating to the 2024 budget, the Ministry of Economy did not foresee any salary adjustment, not even that relating to inflation for the period 2023 /2024. This would break the agreement made in 2023, to restore salary losses imposed by recent governments.

Given this attitude of Your Excellency's government, of refusing to grant an adjustment to our category of State employees in 2024 and recognizing the budgetary commitments made by the Executive Branch with the National Congress, we began to demand, in January 2024, 27 % of salary adjustment, divided into 3 installments: 7% in 2024, 7% in 2025, and 7% in 2026. In view of a new refusal by Your Excellency's Government. and considering the results of the Federal Teachers' Assemblies held between 10 and 17/05/2024, ANDES, via its National Strike Command, redid its original proposal, lowering the demand for 2024 from 7% to 3,52%. It accepted the rate proposed by the Government of 9% for 2025 and added 5,38% for 2026.

This counter-proposal shows that ANDES is imbued with the democratic prerogative to negotiate and is acting in close accordance with its bases, taking into account the difficulties of Your Excellency's Government. in the face of a National Congress, most of which is a hostile opponent.

Therefore, it is clear that ANDES has not adopted an “all or nothing” policy in negotiations with the Government; on the contrary, the successive counter-proposals presented show their willingness to dialogue and negotiation. It's a shame that Your Excellency's government. behave in a way that is alien to democratic, republican and union values, breaking off negotiations when contradicted or signing agreements with entities that are not representative of the strike movement.

In the Official Communiqué of 10/06/2024, although the intention of the act was to obtain the rectors' adherence to the Government's proposals, from the few speeches by rectors it was clear that everyone complains about the lack of resources for the normal functioning of universities. The rectors show that the 2024 budget is equivalent to that of 2015, when the number of Federal Institutions of Higher Education was only 60% of its current number.

The amount presented to the rectors is insufficient. These Institutions need at least an additional R$2,5 billion to maintain their teaching, research and extension activities until the end of 2024. University students, especially those from affirmative actions, are hungry and some of them are being forced to abandon her studies to ensure her own survival, due to the cut in funds and the small number and value of scholarships.

It is essential to emphasize that teachers, Federal Education Administrative Technical employees and students at Federal Universities and Institutes are not against the initiative of the new PAC to expand the Federal Public System of Technical and Technological Higher Education; on the contrary, they are in favor of expanding the System, as long as it is of quality. They are in favor of its expansion in order to complement and meet the public and quality education needs of the Brazilian population, correcting distortions and gaps in works and actions of the previous PAC.

However, the expansion does not meet the needs that teachers and employees currently on strike have at SFETT. To achieve this, it is essential that negotiations progress so that normality can return. Finally, we completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that “Education is an investment, not an expense”.

*Francisco Alves is a retired professor from the Department of Production Engineering at UFSCar.

*João dos Reis Silva Junior He is a professor at the Department of Education at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar).

*Valdemar Sguissardi is a retired professor at the Department of Education at the Federal University of São Carlos.


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