Laughable, grotesque and offensive



The arguments of the traditional media against the repeal of the labor reform hide that it produced unemployment, precariousness and economic downturn

With the title, “The PT does not know what citizenship is”, the editorial of the newspaper The State of S. Paul, of January 9, 2022, in an effort to oppose the speech of former President Lula, who, citing the example of a recent measure adopted in Spain, expressed the intention to revoke the labor “reform”, came out in defense of the “reform ”, stating that it was “one of the main advances achieved in recent years”.

So far, nothing new, as the ideological position of the Estadão, always allied to the interests of the dominant economic and oligarchic classes and contrary to the improvement of the living and working conditions of Brazilian citizens who depend on the sale of their workforce to survive. The explicit manifestations of the Estadão in this regard can be seen at:;;

The big problem – and what motivates this text – is that we live in a crucial moment to promote the proper and effective defense of life and an editorial like this one, which denies the facts and clings to empty rhetoric, starting from a vehicle of information in mass that has been providing the important service of spreading the need to respect medical determinations and scientific evidence, as a way to combat the movement of rejection of vaccines headed by the President of the Republic, ends up constituting a huge reinforcement for denialism of all kinds .

Estadão's editorial is a parade of denialism similar to flat earthism!

From the point of view of the lack of commitment to reality, there is no difference between the lines that advocate that vaccines against the new coronavirus are experimental and that claim that those vaccinated are at risk of serious health problems and the content of the editorial in question, in the which, without any concrete data, states: “the PT attacks one of the main advances obtained in recent years. It is an explicit defense of retrogression”; “Michel Temer's labor reform is a sophisticated legal framework, of rare social and economic balance”; “…the labor theme had especially dramatic contours in the country, due to an interpretative imbalance that was established in the application of the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT)”; “…Law 13.467/2017 was able to update labor legislation, undoing rigidities and promoting new balances, without eliminating workers' rights”; “The labor reform approved by Congress in 2017 has no symmetry with the simplistic (and mistaken) ideas of the Bolsonaro government, which sees in labor rights only obstacles to be removed as soon as possible”; “The fruit of a long study and negotiation process in Congress, Law 13.467/2017 has a different system and a different proposal”; “Without extinguishing rights, it provided more freedom and flexibility in labor relations, in addition to having removed some excrescences from the national legal system, as was the case of mandatory union dues”; “Anyone who is truly on the side of the workers cannot be against the end of mandatory union dues”; “Like all law, labor legislation must provide, through adequate regulation of social relations, autonomy and freedom. It is not barbarism or anarchy, nor is it halter or subjection. This dimension of citizenship is not part of the history of the PT and, apparently, not even of its future”.

These statements, for anyone who is alive, is a thinking being and has lived in Brazil at least since 2016, it would not even be appropriate to make a reference, they are so laughable, grotesque and, at the same time, offensive.

In any case, it should be remembered that the irregularities of the legislative process (with an inconceivable duration of just over five months) of drafting and voting on Law n. 13.467/17 were expressly recognized by the Federal Senate itself, in the session of 01/09/21, when it rejected, in full, the conversion into law of MP 1045 (PLV 197).

The institutional irregularities for the approval of the “reform”, by the way, started much earlier, when, already with this horizon, a great adjustment of the dominant classes – with decisive participation of the great press – promoted (without any support) the removal of the power of a Legitimately elected President, with a view to putting in her place a representative of this alliance, whose unique commitment, assumed since the announcement, while she was still Vice President, of the government program “Bridge to the Future”, which provided for the carrying out of a reform labor law, would therefore be to carry out “unpopular reforms”. And this commitment, for some reason, is still in force and enforceable, so much so that, shortly after the release of Lula's speech, he was willing (with the media space that he was promptly granted) to come out publicly in defense of the "reform" ( and he did so, of course, with the same inconceivable rhetoric).

It is worth noting that, appearances aside, this alliance is also maintained with the current government, which even promoted social security “reform” and promises privatizations and an administrative “reform” to annihilate public services (the same ones that have been recognized as essential - see the roles played by ANVISA and SUS). It happens that many of those who claim to be defenders of democratic regularity, respect for the Constitution and the effectiveness of fundamental rights, notably freedom of the press and freedom of expression, are silent or conniving, when they do not assume the position of protagonists, in relation to to the legal and police measures that have been adopted against the constitutional guarantees of the working class.

Therefore, one can never fail to record the true history of Law n. 13.467/17 when talking about labor “reform” in Brazil, since the role assumed by the vast majority of press organizations in this matter has been, precisely, to erase history, to sell the version that labor “reform” it was just another law like so many others. And even now that the STF, starting (with a long delay, it should be said) to rule on crucial “reform” issues, declares the unconstitutionality of specific issues, as it did recently in ADI 5766, referring to access to justice, the national alliance for the exploitation of labor turns a blind eye to reality.

It is curious and revealing, for example, to verify the identity of the positioning of the Estadão, from Folha de São Paulo and CNN in the fight against the recent speech by former President Lula.

To reject denialism, it is therefore up to talk about reality and the concrete effects of the “reform” are all there and cannot be simply disregarded or rhetorically destroyed. For a more precise chronology of what the “reform” produced, see the text “About the modernization of labor relations”, available at: In summary, since the edition of the “reform”, the income of workers has only been decreasing1 and the profits of large companies increasing2, even during the pandemic3. And, of course, income concentration and social inequality continue to constitute the hallmark of our historical reality.4.

The undeniable reality that appears as an effect of the labor “reform” is the increase in unemployment and informality, in addition to the consequent economic downturn. And, moreover, this was exactly what specific economic sectors, which increased their profits in the same period, intended to achieve with such “reform”.

As a final touch, let's focus on the editorial's last statement. For the Estadão, male and female workers in Brazil became citizens when they ceased to be subject to the mandatory union contribution, which was, it is worth remembering, equivalent to one day's salary per year. It also maintains that this change, at the same time, brought autonomy and freedom to workers. And, finally, he suggests being a defender of the workers because, within his discursive rhetoric, whoever is in favor of the union contribution cannot be “truly on the side of the workers”.

This, however, was a very small point of the “reform”, in relation to which there was not much objection in the legal environment and in a good part of the trade union field. The objection that was established was related to the abrupt way, without respecting the constitutional limits, in which the change was imposed, and the effect of this hasty procedure was, as is known (and was intended, of course), a great retraction, even momentary, of union action.

Moreover, the elimination of the union tax has always been proposed within the context of the complete elimination of the fascist authoritarian debris that still keeps union action under strong control, which is mainly due to the prediction of an automatic and mandatory union linkage through categories legally established, by prohibiting freedom for the formation of unions and the creation of their respective sources of funding, by the maintenance of various forms of state intervention in union organization and by the possibility of judicial judgment of workers' strikes. The fact is that, concretely, nothing has been done towards effective union freedom and, therefore, the notion of citizenship brought by the Estadão, taken from the assumption of freedom, is either simply fallacious or presents itself as seriously malicious.

What was verified, as the touchstone of the “reform”, was, rather, a weakening of the unions, to facilitate the path of reduction of rights through “negotiation”. Within a context of structural unemployment in which the social position of being employed is sold as a situation of privilege and the fight for better working conditions or even the preservation of rights are treated as an act of selfishness, the strategy engendered in the “reform ”, to benefit economic power, was: to legally allow the reduction of rights through collective bargaining; weaken unions; exclude the role of the union in different moments of employment relations; increase the precarious forms of contracting (in order to facilitate the argument of privilege of the contract with full rights); increase the power of the large employer, facilitating collective dismissals; and hinder access to justice for male and female workers (only recently recognized as unconstitutional by the STF in ADI 5766).

All this, quite contrary to what was said in the editorial, increased the suffering at work and the stage of submission of the working class, even more so when this structure was integrated, also with the support of the great press, the mechanisms of greater exploitation brought by the MP 927 and 936.

The result of all this is that male and female workers were the hardest hit by the pandemic, not only because of the fragility of their jobs and livelihoods, but also because of the risk of losing their lives in the exercise of their professional activities: 43% of workers were unable to work from home in no time, which is especially alarming if we remember that for a year there was not even a vaccine available in the country. The number of contracts terminated due to death in 2020 was much higher than in 2019, with workers in activities considered essential (integrated into a conveniently expanded roster and who have not stopped working during the pandemic) the hardest hit: truck drivers, construction workers , doormen, trade workers (cash attendants, salespeople), cleaning professionals, housekeepers, bill collectors, drivers, civil servants, health professionals, some of these categories with an increase of more than 40% in deaths. And this situation drastically worsened in early 2021: an increase of 71,6% compared to the first quarter of 2020. And it is worth noting that such data are from the formal market, which allows us to infer an even greater tragedy between workers informal workers, the majority peripheral and composed of black men and, above all, black women, such as day laborers, app delivery people and street vendors.

What is indisputable is that the precariousness of the lives of millions of people (those who depend on the sale of the workforce to survive) generated concrete effects during the pandemic, proof of which is the fact, already attested in several studies, that it is in the class that Most victims of COVID-19 live from work.

The editorial of Estadão, denialist, legally null, offensive, which trivializes suffering, which deconstructs the meaning of citizenship, which disregards the deaths that were also caused by precarious work that was enhanced by the “reform”, is the demonstration that denialism is, equally, a contagious disease that, spread everywhere, considerably increases the challenges that currently arise for the preservation of the human species.

Going a little beyond the plot brought in the film by director Adam McKay, don't look up, denialisms try to prevent us from looking up and also to the sides. The point is that to know the truth it is not enough to recognize these obstacles. To constitute a society that is effectively compatible with the condition of truly human beings, who are conscious, emancipated, solidary and creative, and who know how to interact with the limitations of the planet, it is essentially necessary to recognize the existence of class society and seek its resilience.

The more class hatred, which is expressed in editorials like this one, is presented, and the more the dominant forces wield their weapons to maintain alienation, domination and exploitation, feeding back the logic of “meritorious” selection and making exclusion a “natural cause”, the more certainty grows around the need to build a new model of society, in which economic power, merchandise, individualism, disguise, lies, deceit and the conniving search for “status” ” and by enrichment stop dictating the rules of human coexistence.

*Jorge Luiz 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 (Studio editors).








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