Police in Brazil's congress clash with police union members

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 20.04.2017 00:53

Congressional police in riot gear used tear gas to drive back hundreds of members of federal police unions who tried to invade the Brazilian Congress on Tuesday to protest a pension reform bill that would reduce their benefits. The security officers used tear gas and pepper spray to drive back about protesters who smashed one of the glass doors of the congressional building. Police said Tuesday's protest ended in less than an hour and that no one was arrested. He said that 3,000 federal police officers had attended the demonstration and that about 100 tried to get into the legislature, which is in the midst of a major corruption scandal.

The demonstrators broke glass doors before being pushed back in a violent clash that underscored the unpopularity of the pension reform President Michel Temer's government is proposing to balance Brazil's overdrawn public accounts.

The lower Chamber of Deputies, where debate on the bill will begin at committee level on Wednesday, said in a statement that 500 demonstrators, most of them off duty police officers, tried to invade the building but were repelled with no injuries reported.

The pension reforms are part of the government's efforts to shore up public finances and pull Latin America's largest economy out of recession.

The controversial reform sets a minimum retirement age of 65 years in a country where public sector employees work on average to 54 before retiring in a generous social security system that is the main cause of Brazil's unsustainable budget deficit.

The police went ahead with their protest despite the announcement of concessions that will dilute the fiscal savings of the bill at least one fifth by setting lower retirement ages for women, teacher, rural workers and police.

The changes reduced the proposed age of retirement for police officers to 60 from 65 years. The 27 federal police unions behind the protest said the bill fails to reward the risk involved in police work.

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