Lowest common denominator

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By ELIANE SILVEIRA*

What bothers the right about app-based work regulation?

1.

The complementary bill (PLP 12/2024) sent by the federal government to Congress, on the regulation of work through transport applications, does not recognize or establish a labor relationship between drivers and platforms. Nor does it open an umbrella of social protection such as the right to FGTS, food vouchers, health insurance, weekly working hours, vacations, paid time off or any other guarantee. Why then did it cause so much fury among the Bolsonarist base?

The proposed regulation establishes a minimum agreement between platforms and driver representatives recognizing autonomous work. Far removed from the intentions of the government program presented in the 2022 elections, which advocated “repealing the labor reform and the liberalization of outsourcing, and all the measures that meant the withdrawal of rights. We need to move towards a situation of ensuring labor and social security rights for everyone who works.” Why then is it considered an “attack on entrepreneurial freedom”?

Regarding new forms of work mediated by technologies, Lula's 2022 government program proposed “establishing a system of isonomic public regulation, which seeks to incorporate all new forms of workforce allocation and ensures income and the right to work , guaranteeing social protection for everyone, overcoming the unbalanced nature of work relations”. In 2023, the federal government set up a tripartite working group, with representation from platforms, transport and delivery workers to debate a draft regulation.

The bill that regulates work through transport apps was the “lowest common denominator” at the end of a year of meetings and negotiations, where the platforms gave little ground. The advances achieved, with great determination from workers' representatives, guarantee the right to social security, health care in case of accidents or long-term illnesses, maternity benefit, and the right to minimum remuneration. This small lot in the deregulation estate promoted by the coup governments of Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro was enough to serve as a trigger for attacks from the liberal extreme right.

2.

Before the bill became widely known to the public, the fake news preceded him. The “engineers of chaos”, as Giuliano Da Empoli explains, saw the perfect opportunity to open a flank of attack on the Lula government and the union struggle, or what was left of it. The fact that the project is aimed at a fragmented and fragmented working class, which does not recognize itself as a class, is a major obstacle to a serious debate about its possible advances or setbacks. It is necessary to understand that a large part of the drivers who work on these platforms are organized not in unions or associations, but through Whatsapp groups, a field over which the Bolsonarist ideological patrol has great dominance.

The liberal and coup far right, which governed the country with Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro, defends the maximum deregulation of the world of work. With its ability to manipulate public opinion, under the action of chaos engineers, it transforms attacks such as precariousness and outsourcing into synonyms of freedom. They make the unemployed an entrepreneur. It convinces the person who works during the day to eat at night that they have autonomy over their working hours. Therefore, any sign that may represent progress, however small, even with the support of the platforms, becomes a weapon in the war against the union organization and against the government that defeated fascism in the 2022 elections.

After all, for those who passed the labor reform that what was negotiated is worth more than what was legislated, the very idea of ​​having legislation already seems like a threat. Even if the proposed legislation itself is the result of what was negotiated. The bill being discussed in Congress is very far from what would be a maximum left-wing program in social protection and guaranteeing workers' rights. You are miles away from turning off the deregulation taps. There are those who think that the proposal could even help to increase flow in a market increasingly permeated by pejotization in several categories. Even so, it awakens the totalitarian rage of those who feed on the super-exploitation of the workforce and who will not admit even a cent of less profit.

3.

Returning to the initial question about what bothers the right so much about this project? I suggest two reasons. First, the project goes against the right's quest, not just the Brazilian one, to suppress unions as instruments of workers' struggle, as it legitimizes unions as representatives of the category of app drivers. Secondly, the attempt to establish minimum levels such as working hours, minimum remuneration and social security contributions is as if the government was taking money out of the “worker’s” pocket to fatten the State.

It is contempt for everything that is public, even if it is this public that will guarantee you income when you cannot work. Even if it is this public that will guarantee you a retirement alternative to not working until you die.

*Eliane Silveira is a journalist and has a degree in Social Sciences.


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