Reflections on the strike at federal universities

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By TADEU ALENCAR ARRAIS*

Publicly expressing an opinion contrary to the strike movement, in the context of everyday academic life, should not be a cause for surprise

1.

Publicly expressing an opinion contrary to the strike movement, in the context of everyday academic life, should not be a cause for surprise. This is how an institution driven by intellectual autonomy works. This is how political debate works. Deciding, at this time in history, to vote against the decision to join the strike movement, however, deserves some clarification. Many of the arguments against it are justified.

I have, however, difficulty not recognizing some positive points in the government's proposal. I assume that there is no possible parallel between the first two years, even if incomplete, of the Lula government, and the four years of Jair Bolsonaro's government. Part of the argument that justifies the strike is anchored in the diagnosis of the deterioration of working conditions and the underfunding of federal public higher education.

There is a huge variety of data that indicates the relevance of this argument. This argument, however, cannot neglect that these problems are not, exactly, located in the last two years. I have no objective of making a memorial in defense of the Lula government's actions in the field of education. I remember, however, the symbolic speed of the government in readjusting scholarships for undergraduate and postgraduate students.[I]

Advances in research financing are also worth highlighting. The exclusion of blackmail and threats due to the exercise of teaching activity is no less important point. These are small advances, in less than two years, that have some impact on the teaching and student routine and unequivocally demonstrate an openness to dialogue that we did not witness under the government of Jair Messias Bolsonaro.

2.

These small advances are still insufficient given the challenges posed to all of us on a daily basis. But who are we to a technician who watches the payroll from the cold lines of the excel? Considering the links with the Ministry of Education, without functional fragmentation, we are 36,13% of the total of 1.091.504 active federal public servants (Portal da Transparência, 2024). This dimension is a reason for strength and pride. The problem is that this greatness is not, historically, converted into political strength. The difficulty, always highlighted, is that homogeneous adjustments in this segment are more costly for the Federal Government.

Of course, we can cite and denounce, to the limit of our energy, the interest rate policy and even the secret budget that drain public resources. But the debate, at this point, goes beyond the corporate sense. We need to change the matrix of economic policy, which means rethinking, for example, our insertion in the federal legislative branch. It is sad to think that we were not even able to elect a lucid and committed person like Professor Vladimir Safatle.

Figure 1. Lula government – ​​adjustment and inflation proposal registered and projected between 2023 and 2026. Source: https://portaldatransparencia.gov.br/servidores

It is in this political and economic context that I express my opinion, without fear of any type of censorship, on the Federal Government's readjustment proposal. The proposal for a “zero” adjustment in 2024 is indigestible. It must be reviewed, to the limit of energy, in the negotiations. One option, if the budget's bureaucratic paths do not allow it to be changed, would be, at least, to complement the January 2025 adjustment with the 2024 inflation, going from 9% to 12,5%. I would also like to identify three positive points of the proposal, as well as possible arrangements for improvement.

(a) The total proposed adjustment is higher than the total inflation accumulated and projected over the four years of the Lula Government. This data, considering the fiscal situation of the Federal Government, is not irrelevant.

(b) It is still necessary to consider (calculate) the increase, albeit small, of 0,5% in the career class intervals. This increase, I imagine, will have a different impact, with a greater increase for associate and full professors. It would be pertinent and possible to increase the percentage, in class intervals, by 6%, 5% or 4%, at least for assistant, assistant and adjunct professors, prioritizing the beginning of the career of a group of employees who have already been greatly harmed with pension reform.

(c) The readjustment of aid, recorded in the Commitment Term, signed on 25/04/2024, must also be considered. At this point, we must join forces, in our agenda, to reduce any asymmetry in this aid between active teachers and retired teachers.

Ultimately, I hope that this political moment is driven by tolerance and patience in the face of a culture of political participation, whether individual or collective, union or not, in decline. Taking a position against the strike and, at the same time, publicly exposing this position, is a way of affirming that the political and public nature of our activity, despite the attacks of the last four years, has survived.

* Tadeu Alencar Arrais He is a professor at the Department of Geography at the Federal University of Goiás (UFG).

Note


[I] https://www.gov.br/pt-br/noticias/educacao-e-pesquisa/2023/02/lula-reajusta-bolsas-de-estudo-e-pesquisa-e-reforca-201ceducacao-e-o-melhor-investimento201d#:~:text=Os%20percentuais%20de%20acr%C3%A9scimo%20v%C3%A3o,mil%20novas%20bolsas%20ser%C3%A3o%20implementadas


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