Union-Led Protests Slow Job Outsourcing Bill in Brazil

Brazil lawmakers have postponed a vote on a bill that would expand job outsourcing after a series of union-led protests drew tens of thousands of workers to streets across the country. The law would allow public and private employers to contract out all jobs, enabling employers to replace workers who have direct employment contracts with employees who could be paid up to 25 percent less. Some 12 million Brazilians already are employed as outsourced contractors, principally in cleaning and security services.

The Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT), Central dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras do Brasil (CTB), Intersindical, CONLUTAS and other unions spearheaded two national days of protest against the bill, most recently on April 15, when unions led peaceful protests in the capitals of all 27 Brazilian states. In São Paulo, more than 10,000 participants, including housing activists and student groups, temporarily stopped traffic on the city’s main roads. Uniao Geral dos Trabalhadores (UGT) also recently joined the coalition opposing the bill.

During similar protests on April 7, military police in Brasilia, the capital, blocked union members from entering the spectators’ gallery of the Congress, detaining four people and injuring eight others, according to the global union IndustriALL.

Under the bill, PL 4330, companies that contract outsourced services would not be directly responsible for any violations of outsourced workers’ labor rights. It also would allow outsourced workers to be represented by outsourced workers unions, and not by the unions that represent the directly-contracted workers at the companies where they are employed.

Lawmakers are expected to take up the bill next week.