April 18, 2017 / 7:16 PM / 4 months ago

Brazil police try to storm Congress over pensions

Striking police officers set fire to coffins during a protest by Police officers from several Brazilian states against pension reforms proposed by Brazil's president Michel Temer, in Brasilia, Brazil April 18, 2017.Adriano Machado

BRASILIA (Reuters) - 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 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 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.

Reporting by Maria Carolina Marcello; Writing by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chris Reese and Diane Craft

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