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13 July, 2017

Brazil labor reform removes rights enjoyed for seven decades

Dilma Rousseff tweets: Brazil is in mourning. After 74 years of victories, by 50 votes the Senate handed workers a defeat.

The Brazilian Senate's approval of President Michel Temer's unamended labor reform bill, on Tuesday night, has drawn angry reactions from trade unions and the Brazilian left. Former president, Dilma Rousseff, tweeted that “Brazil is in mourning. After 74 years of victories, by 50 votes, the Senate handed workers a defeat.

Even before the reform passed, Vagner Freitas, president of Brazil's Central Worker's Union, CUT, stressed that the “proposal being voted in the Senate puts an end to formal employment.

Senator Gleisi Hoffman, recently-elected president of the Worker's Party, said that what happened in Brazil's Senate on Tuesday, “shames the nation.” She added that the minds of all senators who voted in favor of labor reform is founded in a “regime of slavery.


That idea is developed further by Pedro Paulo Zahluth Bastos in an article entitled, “From Slavery to Labor Reform”. Bastos argues that while Brazil, the last country in the western world to abolish slavery, attempted to “civilize work relations” with its 1988 Constitution, the nation's prevailing social inequalities were ignored. With the rise of Temer in 2016, the tendency to treat those inequalities as problems of "law and order", to be dealt with by the police, became even more pronounced.

Following Rousseff's impeachment, in what many regard as a parliamentary coup, labor reform became the central pillar of a host of austerity measures and neoliberal policies, which return labor relations to something resembling the days of legalized slavery.

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