Published: 12/06/2020

A determined campaign by IUF affiliates and allies has beaten back a government attempt to remove a hard won health and safety protection for meat and poultry processing workers in Brazil.

As in many other countries, meat and poultry plants in Brazil have become viral hotspots for mass infection. At a time of critical danger for meat and poultry workers, the industry and their political supporters proposed to reduce worker protection by amending Provision 927 of NR36, a key provision in national legislation which mandates a 20-minute break for every 1 hour and forty minutes of work. NR36, which sets health and safety standards for the sector including major ergonomic advances, was established in law in 2013 following 15 years of campaigning by our affiliates CNTA and Contac, with support from IUF affiliates worldwide.

A proposed amendment in the Chamber of Deputies would have restricted the break to apply to only 5% of the workers currently protected! Unions fought back with a campaign to preserve the breaks which received wide support from union and civil society allies and was energetically promoted by the IUF Latin American regional secretariat.

On May 9, the proposal to amend NR36 was defeated. IUF Latin America Regional Secretary Gerardo Iglesias hailed the successful outcome of the struggle but urged vigilance in the ongoing fight for decent work in the sector.