A worker harvests sugar cane in Brazil for Shell JV company, Raízen. Photo: Shell/Flickr

Union treasurer, Denilson Ramalho da Silva, has been fired by Raízen for his trade union activities.

IndustriALL urges Shell to intervene over fired trade union leaders in Brazil


IndustriALL Global Union has called on Royal Dutch Shell Plc to intervene in the unfair dismissal of three union leaders at its subsidiary Raízen Energia in Brazil.

Rivael Marcos Batista, president; Denilson Ramalho da Silva, treasurer; and Orlando Monegato, substitute director of the Union of Rural Employees of Boa Esperança do Sul, (affiliated to IndustriALL through FERAESP), were dismissed at Raízen’s Araraquara and Bocaina production units in the state of São Paolo.

The three recently elected trade unionists say they suffered discrimination on account of their union membership from the management of Raízen. They were subsequently dismissed in December 2017 and January 2018, even though they have job security under Brazilian labour legislation as union leaders.

In a letter to the Jorrit Van der Togt, Executive Vice President HR Strategy, IndustriALL’s General Secretary, Valter Sanches, said:

“It is imperative that Raízen Energia reinstate the unfairly dismissed trade union leaders, stop the persecution of workers on account of their union membership, and establish a genuine dialogue with the union to ensure the full respect of the rights of workers at Raízen Energia.”

Raízen is a 50:50 joint-venture founded in 2010 between Shell and bioethanol, sugar and energy producer, Cosan. It is now one of the largest companies in terms of revenue in Brazil today and has around 30,000 employees at 26 plants. Raízen is the country's leading producer of sugarcane ethanol and the largest individual exporter of cane sugar in the international market, as well as being one of the main players in the distribution and sale of fuels in Brazil.

In reply to the letter, Mr Van der Togt wrote on 1 March:

“You may be aware that Raizen is an independent company not controlled by the Royal Dutch Shell Group. Raizen has however, social ethics and compliance standards which are equivalent to those of Royal Dutch Shell.”

Van der Togt said IndustriALL’s letter would be passed on to Human Resources at Raízen to clarify the matter.

However, according to Shell’s website: “Entities and unincorporated arrangements over which Shell has joint control are generally referred to ‘joint ventures’ and ‘joint operations’ respectively”, concluding that Shell does indeed have control over Raízen.

FERAESP maintains that Raízen has serious problems with the working conditions of rural employees, including non-compliance with international standards, especially those relating to trade unions. The union has also raised serious concerns health and safety standards at Raízen after three workers were killed at work at the Barra Bonita, Dois Córregos and Tarumã units.

"The working conditions at these mills, under Raízen's control, have deteriorated," said the president of FERAESP, Jotalune Dias dos Santos, observing that "the pace dictated by the industry is leading to accidents, some of which are fatal to workers. "

IndustriALL has launched a global campaign against Shell demanding the company applies the same values and worker rights at all its operations, wherever they are in the world.