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Sao Paulo and Osasco seamstresses win historic agreement

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13 July, 2012The new collective agreement obliges 7,000 companies in São Paulo to provide ergonomic chairs for workers.

The seamstresses’ union in São Paulo and Osasco (Sindicato de las Costureras de Sao Paulo y Osasco), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, celebrated a historic agreement on June 27. A clause has been included in the sector's collective agreement obliging companies to provide ergonomic chairs for their workers. This came after the national confederation of textile, garment, leather and shoe workers (Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores nas Indústrias do Setor Têxtil, Vestuário, Couro e Calçados, CONACCOVET) requested a report from the São Paulo agency of the government's health and safety organisation, FUNDACENTRO. The report was prepared by the ergonomist Ricardo Costa Serrano. 

This success is the result of more than two years of struggle and many meetings called in efforts to reach a consensus. The union has focused on issues that are important for its members and one of those has been the issue of ergonomic chairs, which have been proved to protects workers’ health. The union investigated the issue, disseminated information on it and set up a committee to deal with health, safety and environmental issues at work. The committee was formed by union members Milene Rodrigues, Elías Ferreira, José Antonio S. Rodrigues da Costa and Ricardo Serrano.

With this new clause included in their collective agreement, workers have an important weapon with which to fight musculoskeletal disorders, a clinical syndrome that affects the musculo-skeletal system in general and causes chronic pain, paresthesia and fatigue, especially in the neck, shoulders and arms. The symptoms are caused by poor work relations and organisation, including repetitive movements, incorrect posture, static loading of muscles and other inappropriate working conditions. 

This landmark agreement means the union has become the first in the sector in Brazil to have such a clause on ergonomic working conditions in its collective agreement. The agreement obliges 7,000 companies in São Paulo to provide its workers with an ergonomic chair in accordance with the specifications set out by FUNDACENTRO, São Paulo. 

"It doesn't matter what size the company is or the nationality of its employees, the union fought and won this benefit for the 80,000 workers it represents. It was a difficult struggle but it was worth it"

said Elías Ferreira of the union