ITUC OnLine – March 11, 2009

Brussels, 11 March 2009 (ITUC OnLine):   A new report by the ITUC on core labour standards in Brazil, produced to coincide with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) review of its trade policy, shows shortcomings in the application and enforcement of core labour standards, particularly with regard to violations of trade union rights, forced labour and child labour.

Among the most serious violations of core labour standards identified in the report are violations of trade union rights in rural areas, where employers are particularly hostile towards labour organisations and where violence, reprisals and blacklisting of trade unionists are common.

Furthermore, the report notes that discrimination in access to employment and remuneration is frequent, with serious impact on women and on Afro-Brazilians.

Although the number of working children is decreasing, an estimated 5.4 million children are still economically active, including in the worst forms of child labour. Child prostitution is a problem and there are many street children in Brazil.

Finally, there is a serious problem with forced labour in Brazil, particularly in rural areas, in forest clearing, lodging, charcoal production and agriculture, and a number of children are caught up in this. The International Labour Organisation has estimated that the number of people working in conditions of slavery to lie at around 40,000 (2003). Inspection has increased but the number of convictions remains too low.