The end is not the limit

Sergio Sister, 1970, ecoline and crayon on paper, pencil and felt-tip pen, 32x45 cm


In Brazil, it has not been enough for the dominant classes to over-exploit, they also need to experience the pleasure of humiliating the working class

“And so, arriving and leaving / There are only two sides / Of the same journey / The train that arrives / Is the same train that departs”
(Meetings and Farewells – Milton Nascimento

As explicit in Sérgio Bianchi's film, chronically unfeasible, in Brazil it has not been enough for the dominant classes to over-exploit, they also need to experience the enjoyment of humiliating the working class.

It is only in this way that one can understand Mr. Paulo Guedes, Minister of Economy, who, even in the face of the enormous suffering of workers, which increased even more during the pandemic period, went public to announce the government's intention to create the "New Green and Yellow Wallet", which would bring the forecast of hiring per hour, without any labor charge, including the Severance Indemnity Fund (FGTS) and social security contribution.

But even the pleasure of announcing yet another reduction in social rights in the midst of the suffering of others was not enough for him, he still had the feeling to trample workers, saying that the so-called "New Green and Yellow Card" would bring workers the benefit of being able to provide services to several "employers" at the same time and that this form of work would be a "bridge" of transition between "the government's social assistance and the contracts governed by the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT)", or, in other words, , a “kind of 'ramp' for the informal worker to go up and enter the formal job market” [1].

Since it is more than evident that the “ramp” would actually serve for the descent towards generalized informality, promoting the total decay of the nation, it is not even worth commenting on the logical error of Mr. Guedes, not least because the point reached with this speech goes far beyond the limits of human rationality, at least if we consider the historically accumulated lessons learned.
And the attitude of the president of Banco Santander in Brazil, Mr. Sergio Rial, manifested on June 26, when, dealing with “remote work” and based on the assumption that this type of work generates “an easier life” for workers, he suggested that this condition could well be converted into “voluntary reduction of wages”. In his words: “We are discussing, if in all this saving time, you stop wasting fuel, your life becomes easier, why not maybe share something like that with the company? Why can't you be a volunteer with some abdication of some benefit, some salary, as long as you are a volunteer... and that, we are going to build in a way with dialogue, but I think that this is the path that at least we, as Santander , let's go."[2]

It was not enough for these people to destroy the social project contained in the Federal Constitution, which provided for a Social Security system based on human dignity, on the social appreciation of work and free initiative, on the social function of property, on the development of the economy under the dictates of social justice and the realization of labor rights as a way of raising the social and economic status of workers.

It was not enough for them, in the path of destruction of the constitutional pact, to “conquer” (in the field of bureaucratic political arrangements), bank of hours, partial contract, provisional contract, outsourcing of secondary activity, “potestative right of contract rescission”, restriction and oppression of the right to strike, unlimited use of overtime, a 12×36 regime, containment of the rights of domestic workers, judicial recovery law, etc.

They were still willing and satisfied to express the discourse that these retractions of rights were necessary because they were being mistreated by the CLT from the 40s (which had not existed for a long time) and still blaming the workers, because of their " excessive rights", due to their economic difficulties (even if they experienced exorbitant annual profits, also arising from the tax waiver policies promoted by successive governments under the threat of large companies to leave the country if they were not granted cost reductions, or the disrespect reiterated in the legislation, either by not making the payment of social contributions – further lowering the Social State project[3] –, whether not paying the already reduced labor rights, or the “simple” practice of fraudulent acts[4]).

With a new wave of expression and intense media diffusion of the suffering discourse of companies, reiterating the attack on the CLT’s “old-fashioned norms” (a statement also expressed by agribusiness, even though labor legislation, in Brazil, has only reached the field in an incipient way in 1963 and formally more fully in 1988 – to be subject to inspection, rudimentary, only from 1995) and the blaming of labor rights for the “economic crisis” (even concretely non-existent for the main characters of the expression of the argument), In 2017, the labor “reform” was reached, which granted them: expansion of outsourcing to core activities; intermittent work; retraction of union action; generalized reduction of rights through collective bargaining; transformation into law of jurisprudential understandings in favor of business interests, limitation of access to the Labor Court, etc.

During the pandemic, again with the very same arguments (forgetting that the labor “reform” norms would allow them, in short, to expand jobs and boost the economy) they applied for and have already received, in record time, gracefully from the government, with the approval of Congress National and the Judiciary Power, always with the express or silent support of the great media: suspension of the employment contract; wage reduction; individual negotiation overriding the law and collective bargaining; total freedom to unemployed etc. (Meanwhile, the paltry emergency benefit of R$600,00 has not yet reached the hands of most of the real holders of this right[5] and only 17% of the credit released to micro and small companies was released because private banks refuse to make loans without guarantees)[6].
With the statements above, it is possible to perceive that for these people the end is not the limit. It is important for everyone else to understand that the suppression of constitutionally guaranteed social rights has served, in Brazil, since the 90s, as a strategy to support governments subservient to the constant blackmail, also political, of the economic power (which also takes advantage of the weakening of institutions and the collective organization of the working class), and that, considering the dependent condition of the country in the world division of labor, this formula has no end , unless we actually have a national project, in which the working class is effectively respected and included, considering, above all, its role in preserving life and producing wealth.

Putting the question in a historical perspective, perhaps it will be realized that even the end can represent a new beginning. The arriving train is the same as the departing train! To a new destination...

*Jorge Souto Maior is a professor of labor law at the Faculty of Law at USP. Author, among other books, of Moral damage in employment relationships (publishers studio)









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