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Trade unions in Brazil fight outsourcing

31 March, 2015The Brazilian parliament will vote on a bill liberalizing outsourcing in the country on 7 April. On the same day, several IndustriALL affiliates jointly with their confederations centres plan a demonstration in the capital Brasilia to try to prevent the law from being adopted. 

On 24 and 25 March, IndustriALL’s precarious work project in Latin America held a joint national seminar with IndustriALL’s youth project in Praia Grande - Sao Paulo. IndustriALL affiliates committed to participate in the big demonstration on 7 April, and to better inform workers about the on-going fight against the vote of the PL 4330 bill. 

In Brazil, business interests are fighting hard to liberalize outsourcing. Through a very active campaign last year, unions managed to block a judicial process with the Supreme Federal Court (SFC) of Brazil initiated by a pulp and paper company. Had the court ruled in favor of the company, it would have created a jurisprudence allowing employers to outsource activities linked to the core business of the companies as well.

For two years unions have multiplied actions in order to block the adoption of PL 4330 bill. Unions have been able to mobilize other actors of civil society through the Forum for the defence of outsourced workers. This forum gathers various sectors of civil society (academics, NGOs) and confederation centres and actively campaigns against outsourcing. Unions have presented alternative bills on the regulation of outsourcing, and have also submitted amendments to it. However, these initiatives have not been taken into account by the Parliament. Unions want to delay the vote, add amendments to the bill and open a public debate including social partners to discuss the issue of outsourcing.

Young women and men are among the most affected by precarious work. In 2014, outsourced workers in Brazil represented 27 per cent of the total workforce in Brazil’s formal sector (around 13 million workers). Precarious workers’ wages were 25 per cent lower, their working day three hours longer, and there was a higher turn-over.

Together with their confederation centres, IndustriALL affiliates are leading the campaign against precarious work in Brazil. The project offers a platform for discussion and for planning of activities. A coordinating committee, in which leadership of several IndustriALL affiliates participate, leads the project on precarious work.

In 2014, affiliates succeeded to convert about 3,500 precarious workers into permanent workers (including 1,000 workers in Renault- Paraná and 212 in Volkswagen-Curitiba). This year despite a difficult economic situation, the rubber trade union of Sao Paulo has managed to regularise the situation of the precarious workers of the quality management department of Titan.

Affiliates also report on successes in limiting outsourcing to non-core activities through collective bargaining (agreements in St Gobain, in Scania, in Renault, agreement for the footwear, leather, clothing and textiles industries in the state of Paraná).

Ribeirão Preto (Sao Paulo), the metal workers union (affiliate of CNTM-Força Sindical) signed an agreement with the main company to ensure the extension of the collective agreement to all subcontractors’ employees. Metal workers of San Carlos (affiliate of CNM-CUT) have negotiated the same clause with the company Dynamic.

Affiliates are conducting labour inspections together with the Ministry of Labour in workplaces where there are complaints of precarious work and abuses from the employers

(for example by the Dressmakers Union of Sao Paulo where workplaces resort to slave labour, the textile unions of RN, Pernambuco and Sao Paulo).

The Santos Chemical union (Baixada Santista) identified that there was an important number of accidents in the companies they represent, involving outsourced workers as victims. After several efforts with no results to negotiate with the company, the union submitted complaints to the police department, naming the accidents as crimes committed by employers against workers.

IndustriALL supports the fight of its Brazilian affiliates against precarious work. Fernando Lopes, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL says: 

“The adoption of the new law would challenge all the progress made by IndustriALL affiliates in Brazil. IndustriALL is supporting the strong mobilisation of its affiliates on 07 April.