Freezing and confiscating the minimum wage

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By RONALD ROCHA*

Analysis of the corrosion of the minimum wage shows the urgency for the world of work to fight for a progressive wage policy.

Gift from Greek to Trojans

In the lapse between Christmas Eve and the start of the new year, Brazilian government officials always announce a readjustment in the minimum wage. Perhaps because festive dates give rise to solidarity demonstrations, in which gifts play a symbolic role. Practice of the entire population, including individuals who adopt religious-syncretic manifestations of African contribution, synthesized in the period of slavery or shortly after, the occasion, full of emotional charge, is a dish made for “good” news, whenever possible, or demagogic. Bolsonaro and Paulo Guedes, supported by fundamentalist-confessional peers and others, have been presenting the proletarian masses with hyper-exploitation.

This time, the vehicle was Provisional Measure (MP) no 1.021, of 30/12/2020, published the following day by the Federal Official Gazette. Unipersonal initiative of the Presidency, the diploma is immediately valid for reasons of “urgency” and “relevance”. According to the Federal Constitution, in Article 62, the rule must be processed by the National Congress, and may be permanent within a period of 60 days, extendable for the same period. The nominal increase from R$55,00 – R$1.045,00 to R$1.100,00 – was based on inflation in 2020 by the National Consumer Price Index (INPC) assumed at 5,26%, which was just above. Awaiting the parliamentary decision, the text contains conception and purpose.

The inflationary recomposition barely disguises the endorsement of the appalling conditions prevailing in the world of work, intensified in the last two years. Bolsonaro and his team do the minimum minimum – that is, the minimum of the minimum, referring to the lowest of the lowest, not even a measly infinitesimal more – than the Supreme Charter provides in Article 7, Item IV: “minimum wage, fixed by law, nationally unified, capable of meet their basic vital needs and those of their family with housing, food, education, health, leisure, clothing, hygiene, transportation and social security, with periodic readjustments that preserve their purchasing power, being prohibited their connection for any purpose.” .

The rulers apply only a small portion – “with periodic readjustments, which preserve their purchasing power” –, even so with their own ruler. ignore the caput, responsible for the meaning given to the device, as anticipated in the title of Chapter II – “Social Rights” –, whose purpose is to obtain, for “urban and rural workers”, the “improvement of their social condition”, according to the wording of the Amendments Constitutions (ECs) nos 20/1998, 28/2000, 53/2006 and 72/2013. Furthermore, they omit the key content: “capable of meeting their basic vital needs and those of their family with housing, food, education, health, leisure, clothing, hygiene, transportation and social security”.

Therefore, in MP n.o 1.021/2020, the mentioned improvement and capacity. The final adjustment made the minimum wage correspond to 20,74% of what was needed, as the Inter-union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (Dieese) calculated for December in National Survey of the Basic Food Basket. The ratio got worse in January, due to inflationary pressure – the Focus Market Report predicted 0,37% for the INPC -, in a dip that will increase the floor capable of maintaining a family of four individuals, The sum covers a smaller percentage and may fall further, as the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) projected inflation highest per month in the IPCA-15: 0,78%.

The first representative added yet another account to his already cyclopean criminal rosary, as he prevaricates, refusing to implement a salary policy that at least points to the constitutional command. Considering the data provided by the IBGE, the real increase was negative, since the INPC ended up closing at 5,45%, beyond the preliminary estimate. More than stopping, the minimum wage lost purchasing power. Even if the lag is corrected, the freeze would persist, transformed into an official target. Last year's bull was repeated, when there was also no real increase. The world of work faces a recurrent policy, far from any cyclical or contingent initiative.

The memory about the real increases

The substantial result of the procedure is defended by the ultraliberal theory of neoclassical matrix, submissive in the face of conservative interests, which pontificates in the gigantic Ministry of Economy. The recipe contrasts with the conduct verified in the Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff governments, which increased the minimum wage above inflation between 2003 and 2016 – therefore, its real value –, improving the purchasing power of the most needy workers in the market. Among Bolsonaro's priority measures in the Presidency, the blockade of the previous policy, which had been conquered by the trade union movement in hard struggles and long accumulation, with comings and goings, stands out.

As informed by Dieese – technical note of 4/1/2021 – the minimum wage has increased in real terms in the aforementioned 14 years. In April 2003, for an INPC of 18,54%, there was a nominal correction of 20% and a real increase of 1,23%. The other numbers follow, respectively: 5/2004, 7,06%, 8,33%, 1,19%; 5/2005, 6,61%, 15,38%, 8,23%; 4/2006, 3,21%, 16,67%, 13,04%; 4/2007, 3,3%, 8,57%, 5,1%; 3/2008, 4,98%, 9,21%, 4,03%; 2/2009, 5,92%, 12,05%, 5,79%; 1/2010, 3,45%, 9,68%, 6,02%; 1/2011, 6,47%, 6,86%, 0,37%; 1/2012, 6,08%, 14,13%, 7,59%; 1/2013, 6,2%, 9%, 2,64%; 1/2014, 5,56%, 6,78%, 1,16%; 1/2015, 6,23%, 8,84%, 2,46%; 1/2016, 11,28%, 11,68%, 0,36%.

Progression of the minimum wage in the years 2004 to 2016

Table based on Historical Series 1990 to 2020, IBGE, 26/1/2021, with information based on: official standards; Dieese; Infographic G1 2/1/2017.

The virtuous cycle formula had been crystallized in the salary rules of successive democratic and progressive policies maintained by social-liberal governments. Just remember its terms. Law No.o 10.699/2003, in Article 1, advised that, “As of April 1, 2003, after applying the percentages of eighteen percent, by way of readjustment, and of one and six hundred and ninety-five thousandths of a percent, as a real increase, on the amount of R$ 200,00 (two hundred reais), the minimum wage will be R$ 240,00 (two hundred and forty reais).” Therefore, it pointed out beyond any doubt, in explicit letter, the two components, both “by way of”: the “readjustment”; the “real increase”.

Such method and form remained, as an empirical change, for 2006 to 2007, embodied in Law n.o 10.888/2004, in Law nº 11164/2005, in MP nº 288/2006 and, mentioning the “variation of” INPC “by way of readjustment”, in Law nº 11.498/2007, preceded by MP nº 362/2007. For 2008 and 2009, the constitutive portions were submerged in a drier writing, without alluding to adopted criteria, but intrinsically conserving them to drive real increases. MP nº 421/2008, in Article 1, defined that, “As of March 1, 2008, the minimum wage will be R$ 415,00 (four hundred and fifteen reais)”, wording repeated in MP nº 456/2009 and converted into Law no.o 11.944/2009.

For 2010, MP nº 474/2009, in Article 1, Item I, maintained the increase; however, it remodeled some criteria and issued new “guidelines for the minimum wage appreciation policy between 2010 and 2023”. The II established that, “for 2011, the readjustment […] will correspond to the accumulated variation” in the INPC in 2010, plus the “real variation of the Gross Domestic Product – GDP – of 2009, if positive”. The VII and VIII defined that, until 31/3/2011, “the Executive Power will forward to the National Congress a bill providing for the policy of appreciation of the minimum wage for the period from 2012 to 2023, inclusive”, which “will provide for the revision of the rules for the real increase in the minimum wage to be adopted” for 2012 to 2023.

After raising the minimum wage for 2011, by MP No. 516/2010, Law No. 12.382/2011 led it to R$545,00 and beyond. In its Article 2, it established the “guidelines” for 2012 to 2015, including the correspondence of the readjustments to the INPC accumulated “in the previous twelve months” and also: as a “real increase, they will be applied [...], in 2012” the “ real growth” of GDP in 2010, “in 2013” ​​in 2011, “in 2014” in 2012, “in 2015” in 2013. Finally, Articles 3 and 4 recorded that “Adjustments and increases […] will be established” by a simple “decree”, and by 2015 “the Executive Branch” should submit a bill on “increasing the minimum wage” for 2016 to 2019.

The labor counter-reform

With the consolidation of the policy, the decrees issued to equate the increases in the five subsequent years – 2012 to 2016 – were limited, in effect, to the regulation of Law nº 12.382/2011, according to the standard established by Decree nº 7.655/2011, which in the Article 1 provides: “As of January 1, 2012, the minimum wage will be R$ 622,00 (six hundred and twenty-two reais).” The Decrees no.os 7.872/2012, 8.166/2013, 8.381/2014 and 8.618/2015. In short, this policy invariably raised the minimum wage in real terms. It did not even have a retraction in 2010, despite succeeding a year with negative GDP, -0,13%: the increase was 6,02%, 6,15% in addition to the accumulated INPC.

In the end, the wage policy implemented from 2003 to 2016 – despite its breakdown in 2017 and 2018, in the adverse economic cycle of capital that generated negative GDPs and paralyzed increases above the INPC – had a relevant social meaning. The IBGE – Continuous National Household Sample Survey, on 31/1/2020, referring to September – found that real increases in the minimum wage benefited 27,3 million Brazilians, approximately one third of the workforce. In the Northeast Region, the number rose to 55%. The figures increased further when referring to the remuneration of inactive employees and various types of allowances, consequently affected by the adjustment rule.

Today, there are 30,7 million retirees and pensioners – 14,6% of the Brazilian population – representing 20,5% of “income”. The repercussions of the minimum wage directly affect 58 million workers in the various generations, in addition to inducing indirect consequences in average wages, especially in the area bordering the lowest, driven by the informal indexation that follows the floor. Bourgeois relations of production and circulation need to observe the different exchange values ​​incorporated into the workforce in its formation and the gaps in the hierarchy, to maintain, respectively, its “cost” appropriate to the market and to the internal discipline of the company.

such a crowd, Postgraduate Course , is greater than the full population of Colombia, the most populous country in the Southern Cone. Furthermore, it is larger than the internal labor world of the vast majority of nations worldwide, surpassed only by the 11 most populous. Such impressive numbers are just an empirical example, a statistical list incapable, by itself, of qualitatively representing the strategic and human greatness of the minimum wage as a legal institution, as well as the reasons why currents, forces, parties and lobbies they always approach it, either to recognize its central place, or to combat it relentlessly, or to address it with an interested silence.

At the height of 14 years of continuous appreciation, when the difference between nominal increases and INPCs reached 77,17% accumulated – in 2017 – Dieese estimated that 47,9 million people with salaries referenced at the minimum had an increase of R$ 35 billion in “income” and generated an increase of R$ 18,9 billion in tax collection on consumption. During the past 12 months, if the average percentage verified in the real increase from 2003 to 2016 were in force, there would be an increase of R$ 35,1 billion in popular demand, not counting the increase in adjacent maturities, an amount that could be precisely calculated with data only post fest.

With the deposition of the president by impeachment, the real increases were clouded in the transition, in which the intentions of capital to suppress them were gradually burying the pragmatic drowsiness. In the subsequent five nominal rallies there were two real retracements, one downgrade and two freezes. In 2020 and 2021, the current rulers ignored the GDP increases in 2018 and 2019, respectively, 1,32% and 1,1%. They acted through a legal ruse, contrary to the criteria of the previous cycle, simply remaining inert at the end of the listed years. Thus, the increase based on the inflation indexes and the penultimate GDP, duly combined, lost force.

The reaction consolidates the crunch

If the previous rule remained valid, the minimum wages for 2020 and 2021 would be, respectively, R$ 1.057,00, instead of R$ 1.045,00, and R$ 1.131,00, instead of R$ 1.100,00, even not to mention the “forgotten” residues and the losses caused by the annual depreciation of the currency. For private billionaires and state bureaucrats, it may seem like little, something like the typical meanness of those who live counting the pennies received. However, in total terms, the loss that will occur in two years, considering inflation in the officially foreseen target, will be close to R$ 1.800,00, corresponding, for those who receive the minimum wage, to working for free for more than 1,6, XNUMX months.

Thus, the real increases from 2003 to 2016 are the true and only social reform of the period. Certainly, broader and more repercussive – with respect to the improvement in living conditions and reproduction of the labor force belonging to the proletarian masses – than the focal compensatory measures. Such an assertion is not even remotely trying to belittle any of the reparation initiatives that have won so much applause in the environments of monopoly-financial media and multilateral institutions, often willing to endorse romantic projects to encourage or redistribute income, but little used to interfering with the apportionment of the constituted value by work internally to the production process.

In 2017, the hobbyhorse. Unlike the cunning Tancredi – The Leopard, Lampedusa –, proposing that “everything changes” so that “everything remains as it is”, the ladino Temer left, in the concrete condition, that “everything remains as it is” so that “everything changes”. If the real increase would depend on the penultimate GDP, it would be enough to omit it: the rule would do the dirty work. Practical lesson: a text, seen as dogma – universal-abstract metaphysical – can generate the opposite. Here is the package of frustrated expectations: Law n.o 13.152/2015, appreciated and sanctioned under the “technical recession”. No mite in the Nereu Ramos and Planalto Palaces was unaware that the minimum wage had been condemned to freeze in 18 months.

This rule established, in Article 1, “the guidelines to be in force between 2016 and 2019 […] for […] the valuation of the minimum wage”, adding, in §§ 1 and 2: “The readjustments […] will correspond to the variation of […] INPC, […] accumulated in the 12 (twelve) months prior to the readjustment month”; “In the event of non-disclosure of the INPC […] by the last working day immediately prior to the readjustment taking effect, the Executive Branch will estimate the indices for the months that are not available”. In § 3, however, the door opened wide for recompositions lower than inflation: “the estimated indices will remain valid […], without any revision, and any residuals will be compensated in the subsequent readjustment, without retroactivity”.

The gap expanded in § 4, which established, for the “real increase”: “in 2017”, the GDP “of 2015”; “in 2018”, the “in 2016”; “in 2019”, or “in 2017”. As in 2015 and 2016 the variations were negative, respectively, -3,55% and -3,28%, it was enough to apply the text to stifle “purchasing power”. Less would be blatantly illegal, as the Magna Carta prohibits downgrades. But why was the adjustment able to retroact, in 2017, -0,1%, and 2018, -0,25%, in breach of the highest constitutional provision in Article 7, Item IV? Because the infra-rule allowed a precedent: the anticipated “indices” would remain “valid […] without any revision” and “without retroactivity”, leaving the memory of the “residuals” to another correlation of forces.

Thus, Decrees No.os 8.948/2016 and 9.255/2017 were comfortably limited to following “the provisions of art. 2 of Law no.o 13.152/2015”, establishing negative real recompositions. However, in 2017 the mediocre GDP variation was positive at 1,32%, complicating things for the transitional government, since the growing proto-fascist wave had put the president with a reputation as a jurist in the spotlight. Afraid to offend capital by granting a real increase and without the strength to modify the criteria through a new aggressively anti-worker law, he preferred that the task – “more indigestible than cucumbers at midnight”, as in Noel’s samba – should be left to his successor, who a would need to sort out the boxes touches.

The confiscatory mechanism

However, he was emphatic in proposing and sanctioning the famous counter-reformist code crystallized in Law n.o 13.467/2017, which, on the pretext of fighting the adverse economic cycle and unemployment, actually, taking advantage of certain uncertainties and oscillations of previous governments, significantly changed, by 296 to 177 votes in the Chamber of Deputies, the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) in more than 100 points, frontally attacking union rights and contributing to quickly change the correlation of forces to the detriment of the labor world. One of the most harmful effects was to hamper the movement in defense of the minimum floor raising policy, paving the way for a quick retrocession.

Decree nº 9.661/2019, signed by Bolsonaro and Guedes in drowning, also self-announced as regulatory, had to, in Article 1, raise the minimum wage to R$ 998,00 from January onwards. Thus, it swallowed the real rise of 1,14%; however, he got his hands on 0,18% in the name of the infamous “residue”. Then the extreme right stopped wavering. Taking full advantage of the Bolsonarian reaction in a correlation of forces hostile to the popular movement – ​​that is, when the trade union struggle went on the defensive and the National Congress already had a comfortable conservative majority –, the Federal Government decided to say what it came to and quickly drew its revolvers: the MPs nos 919/2020 and 1.021/2020.

The choice fell on the figure of a provisional measure, because it has the force of law and can become permanent. It would, therefore, fill the gap left by the preceding legal rule, capable only of commanding readjustments until 2019, even though MP No. two essays echo the skeletal style: “As of February 474, 2009, the minimum wage will be R$ 2020”; “As of January 2021, 2022, the minimum wage will be BRL 2023.” In the first, an excess of zeal: “Art.1º. Provisional Measure No. 2020, of December 1.045,00, 1, is hereby revoked, as of February 2021, 1.100,00”.

Progression of the minimum wage in the years 2004 to 2016

Based on Historical Series 1990 to 2020, IBGE, 26/1/2021, with information based on: official standards; Dieese.

 As currency appreciation is a rare event, which only materializes under certain very specific conditions, such as exceptions, the exclusive recomposition by the INPC – that is to say, the freeze – inevitably causes a downward flow in the purchasing power of wages during the year, through constant inflation. The phenomenon is known by the authors of official policy, as they have close links – through origin, contemporary practices and axiological commitments, if not direct political relationships – with circles and administrative environments of private companies or the public service, which often deal with the its multiple manifestations.

An example is operations in the field of logistics, in which mathematical “models” have become indispensable for managing inventories or storage. Another is financial management, with its impact on practical indices, whether for conglomerates with an industrial or commercial epicenter, with a view to achieving maximum efficiency in the composition of constant, variable, fixed and current capital, whether in the banking sectors and the like, to maintain working reserves in the proper balance for maximum profit, and so on, including to monitor the performance of companies in the different branches of the market, even in the face of the inevitable margin of uncertainty in performance.

Making use of their skills to deal with such processes and conduct, administrators identify them in the graphic figure of the Gurrupião Effect, similar to what happens in flattening of frozen wages, whose nominal price remains immobile concomitantly with the real drop in the inflationary flow. The line that illustrates it in two-dimensional space – the well-known Cartesian plane, with axes of coordinates and abscissas formed by straight lines at a 90º angle – resembles the “annual” teeth of the serrated tool: vertical left side, in the very act of readjustment by the accumulated INPC ; right face sloping downwards, representing an uneven and continuous currency erosion.

The dispute over the value produced

The obviousness camouflages itself in the dominant discourse, like a burlesque secret of jumping jacks, without the puppets having long noses, presenting kyphosis, wearing colorful clothes and wearing caps – as in the Commedia dell'Arte –, although they often exhibit squeaky or shaky speech. Has Minister Guedes never heard of “Saw Companies”? Never, in its fame of Chief Executive Officer, the famous CEO, inquired about establishments with uncertain profits, in which the lack of sustained performance and consecutive attempts at better results – commonly represented in the form of a zigzag line – resemble the profile of your own salary policy?

The annual confiscation can be calculated using the compound interest formula with a variable rate, used in ascending progressions, in this case duly adapted for inflationary losses during the 12 months. More direct is to use the accumulated INPC per year, provided by the IBGE. For example, the confiscation in 2020 was 5,45% – BRL 740,38 –, equivalent to working for free for three weeks. Between the years 2003 to 2916, the increases offset losses caused by monetary depreciation, pushing the upper points to gradually higher levels. Today, abandoning nominal illusions, the peaks remain horizontal, unable to recover the disappearances.

The usurpation attacks the working world, but it also affects the bourgeois fraction that operates in the production and commercialization of goods for popular consumption. Cheering for the bigger floor ma non troppo, lives the dilemma: save variable capital or accumulate more sales? When he praises rising wages, it is to expand the market and drive development, in the Keynesian way. Already in petty-bourgeois environments, romantic generosity pro-distribution of income often thrives. When both criticize the tightening, they only do so because it impedes the market and reflects the “bad nature” of the “elite”. Rather than supporting hyperliberalism, as Marxists reject delays and miseries.

In short, the ongoing freeze on the wage price prepares and subsequently consummates an effective confiscation. Official inflation totaled 3,75% in 2018, which was added to the previous annual GDP variation in defining the increase for 2019, establishing the last real increase, later swallowed by inflation of 4,48% per year. For 2020, the operation was more brutal, as the recomposition took place exclusively by the INPC. Now the attack is repeated for 2021, as the currency depreciation of 5,45%, the base of the increase, will suffer yet another erosion from month to month. The wage policy in force was created and implemented to the exact extent to extort wage earners, who are the vast majority of employed people.

In an unfavorable correlation of forces, the claims of the labor world, which have never ceased, have been facing such a push. In 2020, the 11.738 raise campaigns analyzed by Dieese – Salary adjustments in 2020, https://www.dieese.org.br – were, in relation to the INPC, with the following corrections: 27,2% below, 34,3% equal and only 38,5% above. As most of the agreements obtained readjustments corresponding to or lower than the inflation index, the average showed a real loss of –0,11%. One more thought surfed the ultra-right wave: using the Pandemic as blackmail, contracts reduced working hours and salaries to preserve employment.

The compression of the minimum also secures the other wages, as it is the practical reference for adjustments, especially for workers in the informal sector or forced by unemployment into “odd jobs”. Furthermore, it influences the constitution of the prices charged for the services of “contapropristas” or self-employed – providers of various kinds –, which the self made man incense as “entrepreneurs”. Thus, freezing and confiscation have wide repercussions: a large crowd is affected by official policy, which inhibits their status as “persons”, that is, as individuals inter-recognized as “proprietors” whose “will permeates their goods”, As Marx pointed out in floorplans prior to The capital.

The appreciation of the floor as an achievement

Therefore, the Bolsonarian reaction exposes its class imprint. Even if compensatory social policies are important and their reverberations deserve a lot of interest, the main problem has never been the compression and concentration of rents related to land, real estate or capital, originating from bottlenecks in civil society or “bad” sharing by the State. The crucial issue lies in the way in which human beings relate to produce and distribute wealth in the metabolism of capital. Marx, in his greatest work, teaches that “The true science of political economy begins at the moment when the theoretical study moves from the process of circulation to the process of production”.

In fact, the intention of the situationists is to raise the rate of surplus value, even if they ignore the concept. Productivity continues to be marginalized in wage readjustments. According to the monopoly-financial interest – that is, of the fraction that most benefits from the power multiplied in the variable capital –, for the Planalto, the expansion of the labor capacity to create goods only remunerates the investment in constant capital. Circulation itself depends – except in pores of the socio-economic formation – on the value retained as overwork and partially redirected to taxes, financing distributive policies of compensation, benefits, assistance, incentives and developments, in addition to the state machine.

One of the main aspects of the militia-phalangist project is the setback in the vital conditions of the proletariat, which succeeds the cycle of real gains and enters that of the freeze-confiscation binomial. At the The Manifest, Marx emphasized similar alternations as normal in the struggle for claims, changing the correlation between the clashing fields: the workers “Occasionally win, but only temporarily”; "The real result of their battles is not immediate success, but their growing unification." In the face of attacks, a lesson for the trade union movement: the broad unity of the world of work is a basic principle, indispensable for resisting, accumulating strength and upholding the fight.

Insent to idealist politics, Marx recognized, also in the The Manifest, the importance of disputes that have gone beyond “individual collisions between workers and bourgeois”, as they appear in the fundamental contradictions in their immediacy: the still sensitive stage of the opposition between antagonists. He stressed, therefore, that politics is the superior movement of social conflicts. “Such a process is promoted by the growing means of communication created in big industry, which allow the connection between workers from different places. It was what was needed for the various local disputes, of the same character, to unify as a national struggle between the classes”, always a “political struggle”.

This is why the largest trade union centrals, in 2004 and 2005, when organizing the “March for a Decent Minimum Wage” and negotiations with federal authorities, were in full political conflict. Penetrating the breach created by the existence of a government that was more open to their demands and a favorable economic and social situation, they joined the National Minimum Salary Council and other commissions. The initiatives soon bore fruit: linking the increase to GDP per capita and the “Protocol of Intentions” – 24/1/2006 –, followed by the institutionalization of the formula for readjustments based on the sum of previous inflation with the percentage change in GDP for the year before last, already valid in 2008.

On 1/6/2010, the II Conclat, bringing together almost 30 thousand participants linked to the centrals – CGTB, CTB, CUT, FS and NCST –, filled the premises of Pacaembu Stadium, in São Paulo, and concretely demonstrated union unity. One of its maximum expressions was embodied in a document with 249 items – prepared by the consensus that the political conjuncture suggested and favored at the time –, encouraged by the recent achievements. In addition to the practical recognition of general representative entities by the Federal Government in negotiations, as well as in PL n.o 1.990/2007, which was finally approved, highlighted the minimum wage policy, mentioned in several speeches.

Elements for a progressive salary policy

Today, with the suppression of the norm that governed real raises, the fight for stable and permanent criteria needs to be urgently re-entered the union agenda with a view to readjusting the minimum wage, without freezing, without confiscation and without artifices for squandering losses, which fully obey and judiciously, to the constitutional command enshrined in Article 7. That is to say, that they guarantee remuneration capable of, without the slightest subterfuge, at the pace appropriate to the socioeconomic reality of Brazil and as quickly as possible, meeting the survival and reproduction of the workforce in its broadest dimensions, taking into account family imperatives , social, economic and cultural.

The new policy must be distinguished from a mere return to the past, out of nostalgia for a “golden age”, out of attachment to supposedly perfect bulls, out of contempt for concrete determinations or for the cultivation of resentments. Marx, in The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, alluding to a Hegelian observation, commented that “History repeats itself, the first time as a tragedy and the second as a farce”. It is therefore a question of concretely envisioning a future possibility: the criterion after 2007, today revoked, maintained certain improprieties: increases in GDP inconsistent with productivity; atypical growths generating unexpected salary peaks; recessions dictating hard freezes.

Similar anomalies provided some arguments on the right, against the increase in variable capital, in addition to causing a lot of insecurity in the world of work in periods of economic stagnation. Constant appreciation in the minimum wage, sustained and based on a broad political base, can be achieved through an equation with two components: 1) correction by the annual INPC, as usual; 2) and, afterwards, the real increase according to the average percentage change in the last 10 annual GDPs, or, if higher, by the quotient formed by the difference between the constitutionally necessary salary and the corrected one, as the numerator, and its division by 100 as the denominator.

In order to set the criteria for a solid and permanent real increase, the following equation is indicated after correcting the previous floor by the accumulated INPC per year: only for N/C>1 and V≥(N–C)/100 , R=C+(CV/100). Alternatively, just for N/C>1 and V<(N–C)/100, R=C+[(N–C)/100]. Consider, in the two options: “N” the Necessary Salary, according to the method consolidated by Dieese; “C” the Previous Salary Corrected by the INPC accumulated in the year; “V” the Average Percentage Change in the last 10 annual GDPs; and “R” the Adjusted Salary in real terms. For 2021, if (N–C)/100 is greater than “V”, “R” would be 1.100+[(5.304,90–1.100)/100=1.142,98, R$42,98 in addition to the amount granted.

Such formulas can guarantee, in addition to a shield against inflation, real increases, procedural reasonableness, financial feasibility and balanced planning, as far as the anarchic market of capitalism allows. It should be noted that there would be a ceiling for real increases, since “N” is the limit of “R” when tending “C” to “N”. It would be difficult for bourgeois ideologues to contest it credibly, using clichés like “Custo Brasil”, since the relative surplus value and greater productivity are concentrated among active proletarians with wages above the minimum, the vast majority. In addition, a trigger – triggered when the INPC reached a predetermined percentage – would mitigate the Gurrupião Effect.

The greater political goal of implementing the Necessary Salary would mean a historic achievement, which can only be obtained and maintained with a lot of struggle, permeated by advances and setbacks, within the period that the correlation of forces and combat capacity allow, even if it is far from being some transit to socialism, socio-economic formation of transition to what Marx called “association of free individuals”. For the union movement, especially on the united initiative of its general entities, it is essential to revive the permanent campaign for the real increase in the minimum wage, in the streets and in parliaments, centered in the last months of each year and strengthened on the eve of the legal correction.

*Ronald Rocha is a sociologist, essayist and writer. author of Anatomy of a creed (financial capital and production progressivism).

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