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Sat May 6, 2017, 12:24 PM

Brazil proposes modern slavery rural labor reform that could deny workers salary


The bill would allow farmers to pay workers in crops or land rather than money

After approving Temer’s controversial labor reform, Brazil’s Lower House discusses another bill that has citizens decrying “modern slavery”. The rural labor reform proposed would allow producers to replace workers’ salaries with crops or land. Moreover, the bill would limit the powers of the Labor Court and Labor Prosecutor.

Congressman Nilson Leitão (PSDB-MT) defended the bill as a way to formalize irregular work in the fields. However, the bill suggests allowing producers to take food and housing out of workers’ salaries. Furthermore, instead of even paying a salary, producers could lend out pieces of land for the worker to harvest. The practice resembles almost to a tee the exploitations of slavery.

Following the logic of the general labor reform, Leitão’s bill also gives producer-laborer contract negotiations judicial precedence over labor law. Labor organizations worry that such agreements would ultimately harm the laborers, who may agree to any conditions in desperation for work. Meanwhile, the bill’s supporters believe that the reform would regulate and stimulate more employment.

The text also sets a 44-hour workweek, which allows for four hours overtime. In addition, the bill requires workers to have an hour rest for every six hours of work. Workers can also work up to 18 days without a day of rest, including weekends and holidays. However, the bill also allows producers to bend the rest requirement according to their needs. ...........

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