Brazil on Thursday experienced more highway blockades and the paralysis of public transportation in some cities during the so-called "National Day of Struggle" called by unions to demand labor reforms.

Demonstrators interrupted certain operations at industrial facilities and refineries and blocked access to some ports, including Santos, Latin America's most important maritime terminal.

In Belo Horizonte, protesters temporarily paralyzed the metro and the city bus lines, which more than 200,000 people use each day.

In Sao Paulo, more than 1,000 intracity messengers on motorcycles headed up Paulista Ave., in the heart of the city's business district, to demand better working conditions.

In addition, the Landless Peasant Movement, or MST, occupied part of the headquarters of the national institute of settlement and agrarian reform, or Incra, in Brasilia to demand that the government resume agrarian reform, which they claim is paralyzed.

In Salvador, banks and some schools did not open their doors.

The demonstrators, many of them carrying the flags of unions and leftist political parties, early in the day began blocking dozens of roadways all over the country, including the Via Dutra, the most important highway in Brazil which links Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

They also blocked the highway linking Sao Paulo with the cities in the interior of the same-named state and the access road to the port of Santos.

The National Day of Struggle was called by the unions to merge with the protests for better public services that had been staged in Brazil over the last three weeks of June and to present the workers' own demands.

Despite the protests and the partial paralysis of much of the country on Thursday, the unions ruled out calling for a general strike, saying that the current labor situation, where unemployment is low, does not justify such a move.

The main Brazilian unions - including the CUT, Força Sindical, UGT, Conlutas and CGTB - convened the day of protest in late June in a move to strengthen the unions' position in the negotiations they intend to pursue with the government.

The unions' main demands include a reduction in the work week to 40 hours, modifying a law reducing pensions for people who retire early, measures to reduce inflation and greater public investments in education, health care and transportation. EFE