Friday, June 10, 2005

A modest proposal?

Before coming to Brazil we had a training session at the Institute on how to do interviews. One f the course providers, Kevin Middlebrook, told us to be prepared for the unexpected, citing a case when a previous student had travelled abroad only to discover the libraries were all closed and their staff on strike. Needless to say, that rather scuppered her project.

I never thought it would happen to me. But then it’s not too bad for me. My project deals with state-level government so the strikes by federal level civil servants shouldn’t be too problematic. At least let’s hops so: I haven’t seen any news from Ceará or Porto Alegre since I got here.

So what are the civil servants attached to the Culture Ministry striking about? The usual things of increased pay (the two on the picket line outside the Museum of Fine Arts next door to the National Library told me salaries had been frozen) and a better career structure and plan. The leaflet they gave me claimed they had sent their concerns to Gilberto Gil, the culture minister, nearly a year ago but hadn’t had a reply yet.

While the leaflet goes on to say how much they approve of having a prestigious and well known minister like Gil, it seems to me they might have a better chance of making their voices heard if they went for something radical, like demonstrations outside record shops and calling for a boycott on the sale of his albums.

At the very least it would get them noticed - but not necessarily generate sympathy amongst Gil fans.

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