The current tasks of the trade union movement

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Sebastião Soares*

From the trade union movement in these times of challenge and possibilities, the ability to be the vanguard organized and aware of changes, during and after the storm of the epidemic is required.

The country is going through a troubled, rich, complex and challenging historical phase. Apparently no other country in the world concentrates so many emotions at the same time, where the central government is the main generator of successive crises that turn into institutional battles. Far from following the wise Eastern advice of fighting one enemy at a time, President Jair Bolsonaro cultivates the art of general confrontation with the tactic of always playing on the attack, the more cornered the more aggressive he becomes.

In this way, his proto-fascist government is a furnace of crises, like the forges of Hephaestus, whose sons, too, manufactured weapons to feed the combats. Working near the fire, the boys, like the president's offspring, acquired certain immunities that made them even more bellicose. From confrontation to confrontation, Bolsonaro rolls his stones, and curls up, in a shattered and adrift Nation, compelled to live with degrading and nauseating scenes, emanated by the governing group.

The resignation of the former Minister of Justice and Security, Sérgio Moro, is blatant evidence of the forge of crises that Bolsonaro commands. Before, he was jealous of former minister Luiz Mandetta’s leading role in managing the coronavirus crisis, and he opposed him, in words and deeds, climbing the path of frivolous irresponsibility, by denying the pandemic and rebelling against social isolation. With regard to Moro, the reason for the quarrels, among others, relates, on the one hand, to the siege that the Federal Police established in the investigations into various crimes of a common nature involving the Bolsonaro family; and on the other, the ex-minister's certainty that he would no longer be nominated for a vacancy on the Federal Supreme Court-STF, his consumer dream and his reason for being in government.

And the skunk fight that misaligned Sérgio Moro and Bolsonaro, taking over the media and minds in the country, and even abroad, became the central political issue. In the game in which butin and flute between stilts prevail, the old, beaten and clumsy politics took advantage of the opportunity to flood the pages and souls of the Brazilian people, with the most diverse interpretations, without caring about the facts. The crowd was divided, there were those who, in tears, tore up flags and yellow shirts worn in the recent past, anxiously awaiting the JN, transformed into election time, explicitly favorable to the former minister, as in the old days of Lava Jato and the deconstruction of the ex-president Lula.  

Meanwhile, the real Brazil remains shackled to its true face and nature, enveloped by an economic and social crisis of very serious depth. The farce of politics, staged live and in color, does not cover the pages of the Homeric tragedy that befalls the people, which devastates the lives and future of workers. The concrete reality of the country is not included in the debates of the institutional crisis, it goes by the wayside, and may appear in the outbursts of demagogic and moralistic speeches, common in the scope of the powers of the Republic, or subsumed in the grotesque attempts to put out a fire with gasoline, through ultraliberal economic measures imposed on the Brazilian people.

In the midst of these institutional dissensions from the central government, companies organize the easy win spree. They make layoffs and reopen malls, rolling out red carpets to customers, posting employees to applaud the families that unleash their consumerist catharsis in the middle of the pandemic. Little do they know, or are not even interested in knowing, that the majority applauding there is against their will, with reduced wages and the sword of Damocles over their heads. Summoned to sign individual employment contracts, she must decide between accepting the rules imposed by the bosses or being fired, without the right to any recourse or assistance, since even the unions, by the work and grace of the STF, were removed from their legal office of representation and defense of employees' rights, in these cases.

Insensitive to the clamor of those who suffer the most from the effects of the crisis, the bosses are careful in avalanches of layoffs across the country, even receiving abundant public subsidies or benefiting from laws and decrees so that they can use and abuse the workforce. Tycoons and millionaires, protected in their armored cars, take to the streets to demand an end to social isolation and the immediate return of workers to their jobs, to be exploited and put at risk to their own lives, working in environments contaminated by the fear and uncertainty.

Dismissals, say, made in a cowardly and petty way. For example, the more than 24 thousand dismissed in the footwear sector, dismissals in Belo Horizonte and Contagem of bus drivers and SAMU, in hotels, restaurants or industries - a situation recognized by FIEMG, when announcing the dismissals of up to 60 thousand people, per day in the state. Workers chased away and discarded without rights, left to abandonment with the simple and simple information of seeking settlements in court. But what kind of Justice if there is no court order?

This real Brazil is the forge that consumes the energy of work and transforms it into misery, suffering and pain, without such a spectacle appearing in the limelight of buffalo operas staged on the great stage of national politics or becoming a matter, even if secondary, in the news from newspapers, radio and television networks. Even because there is a blackout of statistics on unemployment and the true extent of the economic collapse. This is the real drama, the real, bitter nightmare, whose plot has no established end. It is a work open to hoping that the workers themselves, through their struggles, through trade unions, in increasingly unitary practices, can write different chapters than the heralds of capital insist on writing.

Thus, the institutionalized circus of horrors in the country demands new characters and new plots, which cannot be the monologue of separate actors, but the effective integration of all and all that come together in the perspective of national salvation. As the song says, we are going to need everyone who opposes the cannibalism and autophagy of Tupiniquim politics so that tomorrow, in fact, can be another day.

The trade union movement, in this context, in times of challenge and possibilities, is required to have the ability to be an organized and conscious vanguard of changes, during and after the storm of the epidemic. The union centrals, indistinctly, are called to assume the view that there is a forest beyond the tree and that many of these dissensions and idiosyncrasies, party and governmental, do not concern the world of work. They are corporate pretensions, disputes between fractions of capital that, later on, will recompose themselves in the process of labor exploitation and the maximum accumulation of profits.

These antagonisms are not structural or principled, they are mere disagreements in settling scores for power. Maintaining the current situation, in relation to them, the working classes have nothing to gain, except for the continuity of the increase in sacrifices and more tightening of the shackles that oppress them and bind them to the destructive production system. There is no reason to “root” one way or the other. Both deserve each other. Therefore, it is not up to male and female workers to get involved in someone else's drama, being able to say, like Mercury, when dying, in Shakespeare's work: "to hell your two houses".

Although the skirmishes between the factions of political and economic power can serve as an accumulation for the removal of the insane, ruthless and proto-fascist Bolsonaro government, the world of work, the trade union movement inherent to it and the set of working classes have other horizons and interests. immediate to seek and defend. They need to form economic and political struggles, not just defensive ones, in addition to the general struggles for a new national model of development, with the replacement of the centrality of work vis-à-vis capital.

An agenda that demands effective respect for the current democratic regime, the defense of public services, the strengthening of the SUS, the rescue of labor and social rights that have been withdrawn, the restructuring of fundamental bodies for labor relations with respect for the autonomy of unions , full exercise of the instruments of collective labor negotiations, immediate revocation of all laws, decrees and judicial decisions that suppress and evade the historical conquests of the Brazilian union movement, including the Provisional Measures, in this sense, in process in the National Congress.

In this horizon there is only one path: to pave and consolidate the broadest unity of the union movement, including advancing, among the union centrals, if possible, to the highest level of organic unification. Another Brazil is possible and increasingly necessary.

*Sebastião Soares he is a professor and general director of the Brazilian Trade Union Observatory Clodesmidt Riani-OSBCR.

See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • Impasses and solutions for the political momentjose dirceu 12/06/2024 By JOSÉ DIRCEU: The development program must be the basis of a political commitment from the democratic front
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • Introduction to “Capital” by Karl Marxred triangular culture 02/06/2024 By ELEUTÉRIO FS PRADO: Commentary on the book by Michael Heinrich
  • Hélio Pellegrino, 100 years oldHelio Pellegrino 14/06/2024 By FERNANDA CANAVÊZ & FERNANDA PACHECO-FERREIRA: In the vast elaboration of the psychoanalyst and writer, there is still an aspect little explored: the class struggle in psychoanalysis
  • Volodymyr Zelensky's trapstar wars 15/06/2024 By HUGO DIONÍSIO: Whether Zelensky gets his glass full – the US entry into the war – or his glass half full – Europe’s entry into the war – either solution is devastating for our lives
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank