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Brazil: Government needs help from right

June 21, 2004 at 11:23 AM   |   Comments

BRASILIA, Brazil, June 21 (UPI) -- Brazil's government needs the help from the right to support its proposed minimum wage, said a top presidential adviser, sources reported Monday.

The appeal by Chief of Staff Jose Dirceu came after President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva suffered the worst defeat of his 18-month administration last week when senators voted against his minimum wage hike in favor of a higher one.

The late Thursday decision by the Brazilian Senate to raise the minimum wage from 240 reals a month (about $77) to 275 reals month (around $88 a month) was a major coup for opponents of Lula and his Workers' Party, or PT.

Lula and the PT had been pushing for weeks for 260 reals per months ($83) wage, winning its approval in the Congress and stressing a 20-reals increase was all the federal could afford.

"We are in a center-left coalition government with support from sectors of the right," said Dirceu, Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper reported. "We are not ashamed of this support, on the contrary. We need and are thankful for this support."

The wage vote must now return to the lower house, which already approved the 260 reals rate. If the 275 reals per month wage is passed by congressional lawmakers, Lula still can veto it.

© 2004 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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