Two years of misgovernment – ​​the extinction of the Ministry of Labor



Those who lost the most in the chaotic power game of the current Brazilian situation were the workers

At the end of the second year of Bolsonaro's government, we can say with certainty that the ones who lost the most in the chaotic game of forces of the current Brazilian situation were the workers. This introductory conclusion could be treated as a previous outcome of the innumerable losses of rights and, as we will expose, the precariousness of the thriving labor relations in recent years, but the hole seems to be even deeper, as everything indicates that we actually have forces in motion of an all-out attack on minimally organized work.

On January 01, 2019, one of the first measures (MP 870) taken by the Bolsonaro/Militares/Guedes government was the extinction of the Ministry of Labor. That decision, like the rest of the government until now, had a double message: (a) “we came to destroy and not to build” [1], establishing the exercise of ideas that had already been evident in the first FHC government around the end of the so-called “Era Vargas” [2]; (b) it clearly demarcated the set of interests to which it was lending itself, making it clear that the interests of capital would be fully respected and, above all, within the limits of any social dispute, the interests of “Faria Lima” would be asserted and there would be no concession to the other side, the Labor side.

It is worth remembering that Mr. Temer had already done a considerable part of the dirty work, the changes established from Complementary Law 13.467/17, which segments of the Brazilian bourgeoisie and the technocracy established today call “labor modernization”, led us to a market of work that intensified the conditions of fragility and vulnerability of workers, strengthening the figures of autonomous, intermittent, partial, temporary work and outsourcing, factors that lead to an increasingly precarious labor market, notable in the numbers referring to underutilization data, says -self and informality recorded in the data from the last PNAD collected before the current health crisis and also from the “Novo Caged”.

The predominance of labor relations that are not established on a regular or fixed contractual basis, defining a mechanism of super-exploitation corresponding to a logic of increasing flexibility in the use and management of the workforce that leads to the domination of workers' private time by capital, forms manifested in occupations of the type PJ (Legal Entity), cosmetics resellers, Uber and many others. Thus, the ultra flexibility established in the legislation itself seems to have no effect in the face of a reality in which the structural conditions of informality have been imposed and, at the same time, the degradation of the previously formal structure of employment imposed by the new “non-rules” arising from the “labor modernization” is observed. ”.

The explanation for the complete failure of the so-called “labor modernization” is diverse, even disregarding the effects of the pandemic, it is worth noting that the unemployment and underemployment crisis of workers already predated COVID-19. Thus, the unemployment rate in the last quarter of 2019, released in January 2020, shows a very small inflection in relation to that observed in the same period of the previous year, the absence of countercyclical policies given by neoliberal logic, the low capacity to generate jobs inherent to the country's current macroeconomic configuration and the pandemic worsened the situation.

The rigidity of unemployment is due to the neoliberal logic of the current Brazilian economic dynamics, only aggravated this year by the pandemic. These data reveal a scenario of strong rigidity in the macroeconomic conditions related to the labor market, with the economic recovery not being observed at the necessary speed and intensely aggravated by the pandemic. A first consideration in relation to the health crisis must be placed in front of this framework of rigidity of unemployment.

The destruction of jobs was significant, but partially controlled by income transfer policies (Emergency Income), but radically aggravating unemployment conditions, job insecurity and the specific aspect of the pandemic that was the reduction in the informality rate, as with social isolation, a considerable portion of these workers were unable to carry out their occupations. In the last quarter, we had more than 14 million unemployed workers, reaching the highest unemployment rate in the last 10 years (14,3%).

The balance of formal job creation, even under the new rules of LC 13.467/17, has remained laughable since 2018, with the impact of the health crisis being remarkable, which significantly reduces the number of formal jobs. The continued trend of small capacity to generate formal jobs, even with the changes imputed by neoliberal legislation, demonstrated the fallacy of the discourse that imputed unemployment to the rigidity of legislation, something that is repeated as a permanent catechism in the mouth of economists of the Marketplace.

Data provided by “Novo Caged” show a small number of jobs created based on these new modalities: in November 2020, there were 20.429 admissions and 9.340 dismissals in the intermittent work modality, generating a balance of 11.089 jobs, most of them in the Services sector (+4.309 posts) and Commerce (+3.656 posts). As for temporary or part-time contracts, a balance of 4.683 jobs was recorded, also concentrated in Services (+2.843 jobs) and Commerce (+1.717 jobs).

The underutilization of the workforce is growing, when comparing the different periods, its particular expansion is verified, reaching approximately 30 million Brazilians in the moving quarter Aug-Sept-Oct 2020. Two aspects must still be denoted: (i) with the end of the Federal Government's emergency income, we will have a large number of workers who will be added to informality and job search, raising the unemployment rate and, consequently, maintaining the expansion of this composite rate; (ii) it should be noted that this rate excludes a percentage of the population that is discouraged, that is, has given up looking for any occupation. The data show that in the treated period (Aug-Sep-Oct 2020) the percentage of discouraged individuals in the population over 14 years of age reaches the maximum historical value of 5,2%, that is, approximately 9 million Brazilians.

Most of the Brazilian population is in informality (approximately 70 million of the Working Age Population) not regularly inserted in the labor market, having to support long hours of work in unhealthy situations and, in addition, low average income. It is worth noting that the legal changes that took place strengthened the informal patterns of the labor market, which makes the management of the health crisis and the impact on the Brazilian population even more complex.

This picture reflects the triple neoliberal economic, health and political crisis in which we are inserted, showing a situation of unemployment and precarious employment where individuals seek to try to guarantee their subsistence in activities without a formal bond, leading us to believe that in this year 2021, it will deepen unemployment, underemployment and informality.

The picture will worsen exponentially, as the absence of the most basic instruments for regulating capital-work relations and the decision not to have any public investment agenda in urban, sanitary and logistical infrastructure capable of heating civil construction, converges to complete destruction of national industry and complete decomposition of the social fabric in the coming months and perhaps years.

Only a horizon of resistance and construction of an alternative agenda, including the reconstitution of the Ministry of Labor and a new industrial policy, is part of the struggles to be waged by the democratic and popular sectors. The future is definitely not at hand, it will have to be bled.

*Jose Raimundo Trinidad He is a professor at the Graduate Program in Economics at UFPA. Author, among other books, of Criticism of the Political Economy of the Public Debt and the Capitalist Credit System: a Marxist approach (CRV).




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