Brazil’s central bank employees began an indefinite strike for a wage increase on Friday, threatening the stability of the wildly popular Pix instant payment system and other data releases.
With double digit inflation in Brazil, public sector strikes have become more common in recent months, disrupting the government’s day-to-day operations and causing headaches for President Jair Bolsonaro as he seeks re-election in October.
The strike is taking place while central bank head Roberto Campos Neto is in Miami on a pre-scheduled vacation.
Brazil’s central bank employees voted on Monday for an indefinite strike starting on April 1 due to unanswered wage increase demands. Until now, partial shutdowns have been affecting the release of economic indicators and other data.
In a statement on Friday, Fabio Faiad, president of the workers’ union SINAL, said he expected 60-70 percent of workers to adhere to the strike, which could affect Pix and other data releases such as the Focus survey of economists.
In his statement on Friday, Faiad bemoaned the timing of Campos Neto’s vacation.
“Sadly, during such an important moment, the president of the central bank went on vacation to Miami, which does not help at all for us to find a solution to this crisis,” Faiad said.
Campos Neto, who has been on vacation since Thursday, came to meet virtually with workers’ representatives on Tuesday, but Faiad said the meeting was “a fiasco,” with no proposals.
The central bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The central bank’s Pix payment system has been a huge success in Brazil, and has won international plaudits. The system is free of charge for individuals and allows instant payments and transfers.
Just 15 months after its launch, it has been used by 114 million individuals in Brazil – 67 percent of the adult population – moving 6.7 trillion reais ($1.36 trillion) and recently surpassing the level of credit and debit cards.