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Struggle guarantees priority vaccination for São Paulo’s subway and rail workers

With the threat of a united strike scheduled for 20 April, the São Paulo state government of João Doria announced the adding of a portion of these workers to the vaccine priority list

From the editorial staff

Original article: Luta garante vacinação prioritária para metroviários e ferroviários em SP

On 17 April, the São Paulo state government announced that subway and rail workers would be added to the COVID-19 vaccine priority list. These two categories of workers had scheduled a united strike for 20 April to demand vaccination. According to unions, the pandemic has already taken the lives of around 50 ‘ferroviários’ (rail workers) and 24 ‘metroviários’ (subway workers).

The government now says that an additional 9,500 people, including all local train, subway, and São Paulo Metropolitan Trains Company (CPTM) drivers, will be immunized. Other employees who work and deal directly with the public, such as security guards, maintenance technicians, and cleaners, and who are 47 years of age or older as of 11 May, will also be vaccinated.

This decision is the direct result of the struggle of workers and their unions. In the words of Sindicato dos Metroviários de São Paulo (Subway Workers’ Union of São Paulo) leader Camila Lisboa, “We are demonstrating the importance of struggle, of being part of your union and, most importantly, that even in difficult times, it is possible to resist and to win.” Lisboa is one of the subway union’s three general coordinators and a member of the Resistência (Resistance) current in the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL).

Subway workers have waged an intense campaign in recent weeks on social media, in the press, and at metro stations. On 16 April they held a united day of mourning and struggle with both the rail workers of CPTM lines 11 and 12 and the subway workers of Porto Alegre, capital of the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. The day saw huge numbers of subway workers don black clothing in mourning for those who have died, and then post photos on social media and tag their unions. With health and hygiene precautions in place, the unions also leafleted the rail and metro stations, spoke to passengers, and advised them of the strike set for 20 April.

The fight for vaccination for all continues

The Sindicato dos Metroviários de São Paulo released a public statement [https://www.facebook.com/MetroviariosSP/photos/a.213231445413110/3929363410466543/] which highlighted this achievement, but also called on subway workers to continue fighting for the inclusion of other sectors now left out of vaccination. Around 8,200 people, including some who work on the front line and are under 47 years of age, remain excluded from the vaccination program. The 19 April virtual assembly meeting, initially scheduled to endorse the next day’s strike action, eventually voted to suspend the ‘greve sanitária’ (health strike) planned for 20 April.

The initial results of the struggle in São Paulo are an example for subway and rail workers in other regions in Brazil that are fighting back, such as Porto Alegre and Brasilia, as well as for other workers, such as ‘rodoviários’ (road transport workers) and delivery app drivers and riders. In mid-April, delivery workers held a new protest in São Paulo to demand adjustments to their travel schedules and inclusion in the vaccination program, while São Paulo’s rail workers are also demanding adjustments to their Profit Sharing Program (PLR).

The struggles of all these workers and other groups, such as people with disabilities, who are demanding priority vaccination, should be added to the fight against the Bolsonaro government which is responsible for Brazil being so far behind in vaccinations. April 20 should continue as a day of struggle and awareness raising, for the vaccine, for emergency aid, and for ‘Fora Bolsonaro’ (Bolsonaro Out).

This article is an English translation of “Luta garante vacinação prioritária para metroviários e ferroviários em SP”, [https://esquerdaonline.com.br/2021/04/18/luta-conquista-vacina-metroviarios-e-ferroviarios-sao-paulo-prioridade-greve-sanitaria-luta-pela-vida/], Esquerda Online (EOL), 18/04/2021.

Translation: Bobby Sparks

Marcado como:
metroviários SP