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Brazilian chemical workers win 39 hour week


Workers in the chemical sector have won a major victory in negotiations with the German transnational company BASF. The agreement reduces the working week and puts an end to long and exhausting working days.

The ABC Chemical Workers’ Union has won a 39 hour working week at BASF Demarchi. The new agreement came into force on 1 January 2013 and covers 600 of the company's employees. Workers in the company’s resins sector, fire-fighters, communications centre and administrative staff will continue to work different hours.

Union leader, Fabio Lins, who is also secretary of the chemical workers’ confederation CNQ-CUT, affiliated to IndustriALL, explained that "this agreement extends the reduction in working time to other workers. Most workers will now work a 39 hour week, in a mixed 5x2 and 6x1 shift system”.

This is an encouraging development for other chemical workers’ unions campaigning for a reduction in working time. Unions have already won a 40 hour working week in the pharmaceutical sector. "This and similar gains in other sectors of the economy shows that reducing working hours does not harm companies financially. It gives them an opportunity to put in practice their social responsibility policies, instead of imposing temporary work and long, exhausting working days," said Lins.

BASF is a transnational company in the chemical sector and is German in origin. It has operations in more than 80 countries.

Brazilian trade unions have been fighting for a reduction in the working week for some time. This gain represents a major step forward for Brazilian trade unionism and provides a good example for companies in the rest of the world.