A fissure in neoliberal rationality

Christiana Carvalho's photo


What was seen in the session of the Federal Senate, on 01/09/21, ended up being the explanation of the irregularities of the legislative process of the labor “reform”.

In the session of September 2021, 1045, the Federal Senate rejected, in full, the terms of MP 197 (PLV XNUMX). The fact was celebrated by representatives of the male and female workers categories and by social movements, collectives, entities and personalities linked to the defense of labor rights, being identified as a great victory, given, including, the enormous mobilization that was promoted together with the Federal Senate for rejecting the MP. In this line of reasoning, a new mobilization was even set up to formulate a public thank you to the Senators who voted for the rejection of the MP (see the list of those who rejected the MP here).

But there were also those who, with relevance, pointed out that, in fact, the working class had not obtained an authentic achievement, since what was avoided was only the worsening of a situation that, as is known, rules out any possibility of celebration. In addition, for this current, in view of the many and blatant formal unconstitutionalities and merits of PLV 17, the Federal Senate would not have done more than its institutional obligation, therefore, it is not appropriate to formulate an explicit thank you, until on account of the guilt that this same Senate carries in relation to the approval of the labor “reform” and of so many other precarious legal institutes that led to the tragic situation experienced today by the working class.

The media representatives of capital, in turn, tried, in any case, to prevent the vote in the Senate from having any kind of effect towards the revitalization of social rights in Brazil and, therefore, tried to spread their narrative. For this purpose, shortly after the end of the voting, Folha de S. Paulo went ahead and released the headline: “Senate imposes defeat on government and overthrows MP with mini-labour reform.” (see here).

And, on the following day, to top it all off, so as not to lose the discourse around the defense of the expansion of the spoliation of the working class as a way of leveraging the economy, the UOL portal highlighted a biased and distorted report, with which, Through the well-worn tactic of extracting a false truth by asking those who are hungry if they would accept alms, an attempt was made to spread the idea that unemployed people in vulnerable situations would agree to work with fewer rights. And the disguised title of the call for the report was: “What workers think of the new labor reform” (the same one that had already been barred in the Federal Senate) (see here).

According to what is extracted from the news of the great press, the result of the vote in the Senate would have been, solely, a political position of opposition to the government. That is, the Senators would not have appreciated the merits of the issue, but rather positioned themselves against the MP just to attack the government, nothing more.

Faced with this diversity of perspectives, which even, in many cases, revealed an ambiguous feeling, and seeing the need to establish a position in this regard, we dedicated ourselves, as they say, to doing our “homework”. We stopped, then, to listen carefully to the respective session, trying to understand what, after all, moved Senators and Senators in this deliberation, which, we all agree, was quite surprising.

From this more restricted angle, by the way, it is necessary to say that the deliberation, even without assessing the motivation, already presents itself as an extremely relevant fact for Brazilian society as a whole, since the approval would bring irreparable damage to the country. Those men and women who – in the Federal Senate and in all other social spheres – took a stand against the barbarism enshrined in MP 1045 rendered a great service to the Brazilian nation.

This Senate deliberation even left the mark of a huge shock on the credibility of the Chamber of Deputies and, in a reflexive way, of the STF, which until today has not pronounced properly even in relation to the unconstitutionalities occasionally discussed through ADIs ; the Labor Courts and Judiciary Units, which have been applying the provisions of an undemocratic and formally unconstitutional law, without even making any allusion to the fact; and all those who refuse to have this debate. This is undeniable.

In addition, after successive defeats at the legislative level, extended to the judicial field, it is very good, even for the collective self-esteem of the working class, to experience this situation of seeing a public institution not collaborating with yet another initiative to deepen the massacre of human rights. labor. Of course, optimism regarding the result, considering the reality of the country's political, social and economic situation, must be extremely contained and cannot, under any circumstances, be disseminated without the necessary contextualization and critical thinking.

With optimism, even contained, listening to everything that was said in that session, it is possible to consider that the event represented the opening of a door with great potential for a real change of course. But, looking at the situation from a historical perspective, it is very difficult to completely disassociate the speeches of their characters and, with this, it is necessary to distrust the undisclosed purposes of many voters.

And there is still a very fundamental issue in all of this, which is that of placing the Senate's decision, contrary to the government's political interest, in parallel with the inertia of Parliament in general (Chamber and Senate) in relation to the excesses of the head of the Executive Power in facing the pandemic, not to mention its acts and words of slave with regard to institutions and human lives. Would it have been an opposition or merely a way of containing popular tensions and, with this, enabling the continuity of the government, even with the legacy of responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths? For now, there's no way to know. But the next steps will certainly tell.

In any case, the result, considering what was left expressed, is far from being just a legislative oversight or a political party action of opposition to the federal government. And, from the point of view of analyzing the concrete effects, speaking of the object closest to our investigations, labor rights, what was seen in the session of the Federal Senate, on 01/09/21, ended up being the explanation of the irregularities of the legislative process of the labor “reform” itself, the one dictated by Law n. 13.467/17, in line with what has already been said repeatedly (see in the Lemonde Diplomatique and on the website Viomundo)

This concrete data definitely breaks the compromising silence of many people and legal institutions in the face of countless acts of affront to the democratic order and to various constitutional precepts. Henceforth, no silencing in this regard will have the approval of the argument of the impertinence of questioning, on the formal and elusive grounds that “the law was voted and approved”. The way it is drafted, discussed and voted says everything about the legitimacy of a law. And, now, it was the Federal Senate itself that said this.

It is opportune to recall that PL 6787, which began to be processed in the Chamber of Deputies, on February 09, 2017, with a mere 7 articles, in just over two months, that is, on April 24, had already completed its report, bringing more than 200 amendments to the CLT (on all subjects), without any effective participation of working class representations. And it was voted, conclusively, in the Federal Senate, on July 11 of the same year, with the preservation of all the vices that the same House explicitly recognized to exist. Many, at that time, as they recognize now, in relation to MP 1045, did not even know what they were voting for, which is clear in many of the speeches given in the respective voting session.

The indisputable fact is that on that occasion the Federal Senate did not fulfill its constitutional role as a “Revising House”, approving a project of extreme complexity at the touch of a button, that is, without due deepening and debate with society, colluding with explicit unconstitutionality of the bill coming from the Chamber.

Returning to 01/09/21, in summary, viewing the fact with restrained optimism, as suggested above, it is possible to envision the possibility that the Federal Senate promotes a profound change in its positions in the face of new initiatives to make precarious relations of work and this hypothesis is all the more plausible when one verifies, in the speeches then explained, coming from Senators of the most varied political parties, not only a rejection of the idea itself that reduction of rights creates jobs, but also the formulation of a self-criticism regarding the role that the Senate itself assumed in the labor “reform” episode.

These considerations, in other words – and sometimes in these same words – can be extracted from the speeches given in the session, whose historical merit, therefore, was to recognize the illegitimacy of Law n. 13.467/17, given the flaw in the procedure, which, as will be seen, even in the cited decision of the STF, does not just translate into an irregularity, but a direct and irremediable offense against the democratic order.

The debate in the Senate

Let us see, therefore, in a summarized way, the revealing elements brought in the debate set up in the session.

Initially, Senator Paulo Paim raised a point of order, drawing attention to the fact that the reasoning contained in the report presented in the vote of the rapporteur, Senador Confúcio Moura (MDB-RO), which proposed the approval with reservations of the PLV17, had 134 pages, which already demonstrated the incompatibility with the speed required by the accelerated procedure for converting a Provisional Measure into law.

The Provisional Measure, moreover, he continues, originally had “twenty something” articles and, in the process of voting in the Chamber, through Amendments, it now has 94 articles. All these inclusions would, therefore, have to be considered unwritten, not least because the MP was justified by urgent needs, determined by the pandemic, and the materials included were intended to reach realities up to 5 years after it.

Specifically, he proposed that Articles 24 to 42 be declared unwritten (PRIORE1); 43 to 76 (REQUIP2 etc); 77 to 83 (voluntary service to public entities) and all other articles that advocated changes in the CLT and other legal diplomas. Paim justified his proposal with the argument that the mere suppression, generating the return of the project to the Chamber, would allow the Deputies to reintroduce the removed devices in the Senate (a certainty, in his view – and of practically all the Senators who later spoke). .

It also presented an important legal basis, which denounced the irregularity of the procedure adopted in the Chamber of Deputies, to include, in the conversion project, matters unrelated to the MP. In this regard, it brought up the position adopted by the STF in ADI 5127, according to which the inclusion, by parliamentary amendment, of matter without thematic relevance with the MP and that is not review of urgency and relevance or promote an increase in budgetary expenditure. And he cited a relevant passage from the vote of Minister Rosa Weber, in the ADI in question, in which the disrespect to the limits of the procedure for converting the Provisional Measure into law was called “legislative smuggling”, highlighting that such conduct would not only represent an irregularity, but a undemocratic act.

As stated in Paim's speech, Rosa Weber asserted: "what has been called legislative contraband, characterized by the introduction of foreign matter to the Provisional Measure submitted for conversion, does not, in my opinion, denote a mere failure to observe formality, but rather a markedly anti-democratic, insofar as, intentionally or not, it removes from the public debate and the deliberative environment, proper to the ordinary rite of legislative work, the discussion about norms that will regulate life in society”. And the minister concludes: “In practical terms, the tight deadlines undermine the in-depth and careful examination of the proposed new law and result in the eventual approval of rules that would never be approved by Parliament in normal deliberation”.

Senator Paulo Rocha (PT-PA) expressed his indignation at the proposal to carry out such intense changes in legislation without deepening the debate. According to him, this “goes against everything that was done in terms of regulation by capital and labor within the scope of the Constituent Assembly”. And he went further, bringing to the debate table what happened in the labor “reform”: “Since the Temer government until now, work has become precarious and employment has not been increased, as was promised”.

Carlos Portinho (PL-RJ) took a stand against REQUIP which, as he attested, “takes away all the rights of 18- to 29-year-olds just because they have been without a job for two years. Contract valid for 2 years, extendable for another 2 years, meaning that after 4 years this worker is left without any notes in his Work Card, eliminating his possibility of finding a job the next time”.

And demonstrating the fallacy of the argument in favor of the Program, he asks: “Would the entrepreneur, being able to hire through REQUIP, without the need to record the portfolio and without paying any fees, hire the same young person through PRIORE?” And he adds: “REQUIP will kill PRIORE. This is obvious, people!”. Addressing the relationship between the Senate and the Chamber – a very relevant point in the vote – Portinho recalled that “In MP1040 all the corrections that the Senate made were overturned by the Chamber of Deputies”. And he concluded by bringing an institutional element of extreme relevance, which is that it is up to the Senate to fulfill its role as a “Revision House”.

For Senator Lasier Martins (Podemos-RS), “MP 1045 presents several problems”. With that, he was fully embracing the pronouncement of his countryman Paulo Paim, especially the aspects related to the fundamentals brought in ADI 5127. He highlighted that the PLV put under discussion was, in fact, a labor “mini-reform” and, therefore, should be extinguished by expiry.

Senator Jean Paul Prates (PT-RN) was also in favor of considering articles 24 to 94, called “tortoises”, to be considered unwritten, adding that the purpose of these devices would be to make work more precarious. In this area, he points out the fallacy that the programs introduced to the MP in the Chamber of Deputies – which would be more alligators than tortoises – would create new jobs. In fact, as he pointed out, the programs only replace old jobs, keeping the same people working, only this time, precarious.

Senator Otto Alencar (PSD-BA) reaffirmed that he does not trust the Chamber of Deputies, adding that, with the Chamber of Deputies, it is like this: “trusting, distrusting”. Regarding the content of the MP, he highlighted that the amended text brought the “disguised green and yellow card”, with the aim of “making it even more precarious”, and this is equivalent to “leaving the worker to his own fate, above all, what is starting to work, who will start receiving half the minimum wage without any guarantee.”

And, more bluntly, he explains that the presentation of the proposal to create these programs was an “absolutely unpleasant surprise for the moment that Brazil is living, with 14 million unemployed, with very serious social difficulties, with hunger, with all the difficulties that were imposed by the current government. And now, taking the worker, the one who is starting to work, and paying him half the minimum wage for the normal working period, this Federal Senate cannot approve that”.

Afterwards, Senator Oriovisto Guimarães (Podemos/PR) spoke, who expressed himself on the procedural aspect, renewing that, like others, he also does not trust the Chamber of Deputies, but, adding a historical element of denunciation “to the way it is being made the policy of that country", which he considers "very sad". In this regard, he points out that the MP's report has 135 pages and was available to advisors only in the afternoon of the same day of the vote. Oriovisto then asks: “which advisor of ours read this?” And he adds: “As much as I trust Senator Confucio Moura, which amendments did he accept, which ones did he reject, what do we know about it? Impossible to read there and in the advisory offices because we didn't have time, impossible to trust the Chamber, unfortunately there is no longer the thread of the mustache, the word."

And, although, initially, he had said that he would manifest only on the formal aspect, he enters the merits of the MP and decrees: “this MP, first, has already fulfilled its role, it is time to fall, there is no longer any need for it; if we were experiencing a serious unemployment crisis because of COVID, from now on the unemployment crisis will be due to the incompetence of this government in managing our economy. The pandemic will pass, it existed in other countries too. There are tables today showing that Brazil is the only one that has not recovered, in other countries, even in South America and elsewhere, GDP is growing, and ours is this sadness that we are seeing. The problem is much bigger than the pandemic, the problem is the economy, the president who creates crises every day, the real reforms that don't happen, tax reform only comes as a patch, we spent 3 years with Senator Roberto Rocha working at 110 and Paulo Guedes tells us in a meeting that he is against 110, so we are on a path that is definitely not possible to agree with anymore. I am radically against this MP, we have to overthrow the MP. And it's not just going back to the Chamber, no; send a message not only to the President, but above all to the Chamber of Deputies: stop making us boys, we are no longer boys”.

Senator Fernando Bezerra Coelho (MDN/PE), leader of the government, defends the approval of the MP based on the same arguments that, in 2017, were used to approve the “labor reform”: “our biggest challenge is to offer opportunities for income and employment for millions of Brazilians. (….) How can we assist these disheartened people, which the IBGE tells us are 20 million Brazilians? (….) We need to offer hope, the possibility of a better day for millions of Brazilians who are facing hunger, the inflationary pressure of food, of gas”.

But even he admits that the Chamber of Deputies approved a bill outside the constitutional parameters and, for the bill to be approved in the Senate as well, a commitment is needed that the corrections suggested by the Senate will be accepted by the Chamber: “we did, yes , an agreement with the participation of President Rodrigo Pacheco, with the consent of President Artur Lira, (SOM SOME RAPIDAMENTE) report by Senator Confúcio Moura, withdrawing all devices that alter the CLT, which will be dealt with through a Bill, giving the necessary time for the matter to be debated, as requested by several senators, by Senator Paulo Paim, whom I respect, Paulo Rocha, Portinho, Otto Alencar, these senators will be answered in their concerns of not using the MP to deal with provisions of the CLT.”

And he adds: “I want to say, on behalf of the leadership of the Government, that I am honored with the attention and respect of all the leaders and members of this House: if the report of Senator Confucius, approved here in this House, is not respected by the Chamber of Deputies , I withdraw from government leadership. I am unable to continue, because agreements are being made to be fulfilled and this is a very important matter. The programs are very valuable and they are legitimate, these programs offer hope, an opportunity to millions of Brazilians who are today at the mercy of those who smuggle, who operate in the world of drugs, taking our young people away from the opportunity of going to school or having a dignified job .”

Senator Weverton (PDT/MA) made clear his position critical of the content of the MP. He said: "About this MP, no comments, Senator Paulo Rocha, Paulo Paim, everyone here has already made their comments very correctly, and I think that's enough, patience is over, we have to give a concrete answer, let's go to the vote . Remember that, for several years, we have made gestures here and nothing has so far, job creation has not come, meat is absurd, gas is absurd, and unfortunately, my dear friend Fernando, the government's economy has failed, the population down there is hungry and there is no point in coming to say that it will generate jobs, that it will happen (...). So, we are going to vote and I am sure that today we are going to give, not two defeats to the government, but we are going to defend the real workers and defend them by rejecting these matters, rejecting the MP and, of course, approving the DL.”

Senator Zenaide Maia (PROS-RN), supporting Senator Paulo Paim's point of order, goes further and makes the proper link between the intended “mini-labour reform” and the 2017 “reform”: “(...) the leader of the government , senator Fernando Bezerra, should have convinced the Chamber of Deputies not to add more than 70 tortoises. And it is a labor reform, people, of workers who, in 2017, when they dismantled the CLT, already took everything, promising jobs and what we are seeing in this country is a lot of hunger and so far, with all due respect to the leader of the government, no there is a plan to leverage the economy. Everything that comes to this house is to withdraw workers' rights, there is no plan by the government, it's hunger, increase in fuel that can, yes, be changed, this policy of aligning fuel prices to the dollar. How do workers earn in reais and pay for fuel and gas in dollars? And now the light and the water. So we are not going to want to believe, as was said, that it will generate jobs, it will not.”

Alessandro Vieira (CIDADANIA/SE) highlights the importance of “rescuing the country's due legislative process, institutional respect”. The absence of the latter, over time, has generated “serious damage to the citizen and to democracy as a whole”. He also highlighted that “the repeated attempt to carry out a labor reform through MP is legally inappropriate and morally unacceptable. This is not the right path.” He also recalls that the due legislative process presupposes that society be heard, so that “the production of norms that have a real impact on society” is possible.

Finally, dealing with the merits of the MP, he asserted: “If the government wants to change the rules that protect the worker, it presents projects and the projects are discussed by the House. But it is not up to the government, in line with what Paulo Guedes, at that famous meeting that ended up leaking the video, by order of the Supreme Court (...), put a grenade in the pocket of the worker at every opportunity. Trying to take advantage of the pandemic to withdraw workers' rights is not the way to go. But a rational, technical correction of an economic policy that is not working, the understanding that it is necessary to urgently develop and implement income transfer policies, in the same line of stimulating the economy and protecting employment. You can't wait any longer, to follow the same line that Paulo Guedes defended in 2019 and which was run over by the facts; the facts no longer support this.” Returning to the floor, Senator Paulo Paim (PT/RS) presented the content of a document that had been handed to him by the Nucleus for Monitoring Public Policies for Youth, which contains the history that, already in the discussions around the labor and social security system, that institution supported the position that such reforms would not generate jobs. What happened – continues the document – ​​was that the number of unemployed increased from 12 million to 14,5. Regarding, specifically, PRIORI and REQUIP, the document explains: “they do not create new opportunities, in fact they push young workers towards precariousness”.

Evaluating these programs, Senator Paim asks: “Will they continue to earn what they earn or will they be able to earn less than the minimum wage since they are there? The answer, highlights the Senator, is in the very content of the MP: “look at what was said here on the tribune, 'the HOUR minimum wage will be respected', that is, you worked 5 hours, you will earn the corresponding 5 hours. It's the intermittent work, in other words, that you all know about.” And he continues: “What young people ask is that security, the Constitution, the Youth Statute, the CLT be respected. What they want is to have the right to a decent job. This will weaken our youth, and they say: 'nowhere in the world has a measure of flexibility, taking away people's rights, improved employment'. And why doesn't it get better? Because the purchasing power of the population decreases and everyone knows that jobs are in demand. If the guy has no one to sell to, will I produce? Of course, consequently, it does not generate employment.”

He ends, then, his speech with the following reflection: “I see some say 'the people are hungry'. Yes, in the time of slavery they also said that. So are we going to repeal the golden law? At the time of enslavement they were hungry. What did they – ruling class – do? As part of those who were released without any rights, Mr. President, had to settle for working for a plate of food. This is not what we want in this country, we believe in this country, and therefore, President, with democracy and a Senate like this one, I believe that the future of our people will be much better.”

Senator Omar Aziz (PSD-AM) begins his speech by making it clear that “it is logical that this matter needs a deeper debate.” And, in a sarcastic tone, he says: “If this is all that the economy has to offer Brazil, then we are in a very difficult situation.” He complemented with the following argument: “we have to take it seriously. There are more than 14 million unemployed people in Brazil and it is not with a palliative policy that we are going to solve this problem. Brazil needs an economic policy, something that Paulo Guedes never delivered. (….) This is an issue that does not take Brazil anywhere, quite the contrary, it does not solve job creation, what solves job creation is logistics, infrastructure, something that we have not had in Brazil for a long time time and, in this government, much less”.

Senator Cid Gomes (PDT/CE) was emphatic when he announced: “I think that this afternoon we live in a historic moment in which it is mature, I believe, from the feeling that I gathered from the various testimonies presented that afternoon, President Veneziano, a position of enough is enough. The Federal Senate will no longer allow the Chamber of Deputies, with all due respect, with the desire that we have for a harmonious relationship, to take advantage of the deadlines established in the MP, to try to make profound reforms, without discussion, the matter that arrived the day before yesterday and that we now have a week to discuss.” And he concludes: “…it is time for us to definitely create a situation in which moments like this will no longer happen again. MP has to have urgency and relevance and cannot take advantage of it to carry out reforms that are far from being consensual in this country”.

Senator Eliziane Gama (Cidadania/MA), in turn, directly faces the meritorious inconsistency of the MP, explaining that: “we are living a very serious and serious moment in Brazil, unemployment, inflation. The poorest people in Brazil are no longer able to cook because they cannot buy cooking gas and we have, in the midst of all this, an MP whose original objective was, in theory, to improve employment in Brazil and it worsens the situation in Brazil. It takes away rights, taking away, in fact, historical conquests in Brazil, because the program in fact, which is the apprenticeship law, which provides assistance to young people and adolescents in Brazil, it is an achievement, in fact replicated in other governments, including in municipal, state level. And today what we have is the creation of a program that eliminates this previous program, worsening the situation of these youth, including removing labor rights. It falls from an amount of 700 reais to an aid of 440 monthly and that does not respect any labor rights, because it does not consider, for example, vacations, 13th salary and, even worse, it is a program that has a much higher cost than the program which is currently adopted in Brazil. That, President, is unacceptable. It is pointing the situation of our youth to an even greater precipice.”

Finally, he makes an appeal to the President of the House: “I would ask that Your Excellency. also add to these voices, which is the defense of youth, adolescents, and the employment and income of our young people in Brazil, especially labor rights”.

Senator Eduardo Braga (MDB leader – MDB/AM) clearly exposed the position that “no Senator of the Republic wants to take away workers' rights. We do want a broad debate to modernize labor laws, but not to take away workers' rights. (...) We do not want to be colluding here with any withdrawal of workers' rights.”

Senator Fabiano Contarato (REDE/ES) was even more emphatic when he said: “I keep asking myself what to say in the face of an attack on workers' rights in the midst of a global pandemic. This story is already repeating itself, Mr. President. We came with the labor reform in 2017, which vilified workers' rights. Intermittent work was instituted, core activity was outsourced, it was established that the approval of the employment contract was made by the employer, that pregnant and breastfeeding women could work in an unhealthy environment that, if it were not for the STF to declare it unconstitutional, would be valid. Then came another speech, 'let's leverage the economy and generate income'. Pension reform came. Once again, the worker paid the bill. This MP is dressed up with the green and yellow card, which, green and yellow, has nothing. By the way, I want to say that, as a professor of criminal law, this MP is a criminal type: reduction to a condition analogous to that of a slave, it is there in article 149 with a prison sentence of 2 to 8 years and a fine, because doing what this MP are you doing, Mr. President… We have to be sensible. I would like to see why the government and we do not fight to give effect to article 7, IV of the CF, which says that the government must institute a decent minimum wage, capable of meeting your needs and those of your family with health, education, housing, housing, leisure, clothing, hygiene, and we have this meager salary? Why don't we tax dividends? Why don't we carry out a fair, solidary and humane tax reform? Oh yes. Now, once again, it is the worker who will pay the bill, without analyzing the respect of this reform for people with disabilities, for young people. Please have the ombrity. The minimum of moral decency. And what this Federal Senate has to do is let this MP lapse and bury once and for all this criminal behavior that the federal government wants to promote once again under the false pretext that it will leverage the economy, generate jobs and income and do that workers can afford. What kind of company is this that will have a 55-year-old worker earning one salary and another, 30-year-old, doing the same thing, with another, violating article 7, XXX, of the CF, which says that there can be no difference in salary? This is totally unconstitutional, it's illegal, it's immoral. I'm not just talking about the legal aspect, because the entire legal system has to be based on ethical and moral behavior and this vilifies any ethical and moral behavior. That's why I appeal to colleagues: let's say no to this MP, because once again, Brazilian workers are paying the bill.”

Senator Nilda Gondim (MDB/PB) reiterated the arguments against the inclusion of “turtles” in the process of converting the MP into law.

José Aníbal (PSDB/SP) treated as “legislative mockery” the fact that the Chamber of Deputies, when discussing the conversion of the MP into law, added 69 articles, including one that adds/modifies 70 provisions of the CLT.

He also highlights that: “what is called here a MP for job generation, in reality, is the attempt to create a new labor legislation without going through an intense debate within Parliament and with society”. In his view, the rejection of the MP would also be imposed because a project that implies high tax waivers, waivers in general in the S system, in the FGTS, in Social Security has costs for the State and deserved to be the subject of a discussion.

Senator Mara Gabrilli (PSDB-SP) reinforced the reasons why the MP should be allowed to lapse, highlighting the aspect of “removal of Brazilian workers' rights, leading to precarious work”. With specific regard to REQUIP, she argued: “Jobs for young people will no longer be linked to continuing their studies and we already have high school dropouts and are we going to help increase that? Furthermore, REQUIP, in addition to withdrawing rights and making work more precarious, has a very bad side effect in relation to the quota law for people with disabilities: the calculation base could be drastically reduced and what will happen? The consequence of this will be fewer vacancies, fewer opportunities for these people and even a mass dismissal of those people with disabilities who are already hired.”

From a general point of view, he reaffirmed: “We all want more job opportunities, but not at the expense of offering contracts without a formal contract, without 13th, without vacations, without the right to a minimum wage, without social security, without anything.”

Senator Esperidião Amin, dealing with the repeated attitude of the Chamber of inserting “turtles”, even knowing the unconstitutionality of the procedure, as already declared by the STF, leaving the task of excluding them to the Senate, highlights an article of the MP that, changing the CLT, would have the purpose of “forcing an underground miner, who I and the people of Santa Catarina know what they go through, to work up to 12 hours in a coal mine, for example. It is absolutely inhumane and out of context with the evolution of capitalism itself. I’m not even going to talk about social policies.”

Senator Rogério Carvalho (PT-SE) presented a strong criticism of the project, in the following terms: “We are currently with the economy growing negative 0,1% in the quarter. We have 14 million unemployed people, we are facing a moment of inflation, unemployment, low economic growth and the government presents yet another pro-cyclical policy. What is a pro-cyclical policy? The one that deepens the crisis, which increases the withdrawal of resources that circulate in the economy. The greater the wage bill, the greater the demand, the greater the demand, the greater the economic growth and the sustainability of that economic growth. What the government does is increase, bet on the recessive cycle that the country is experiencing. Therefore, this Provisional Measure the way it was constructed, with all these insertions out of context, making permanent reforms, is inadequate. And more, if you don't have a growing economy, if you don't have public investment, if you don't have an anti-cyclical policy, obviously what will happen is the replacement of an employee, of a type of employee, by another employee. Therefore, there is no other way for us to defend the greater interest of this country, the public interest, the interest of the Brazilian people, of Brazilian workers, if we do not reject this Provisional Measure in its entirety and open a serious debate on the economy, on income employment policy in this country".

Senator Dario Berguer reiterates that the MP, amended by the Chamber, “implements a broad labor reform, completely out of tune with the reality of the Provisional Measure. It means the end of the formal contract. It transforms the lives of workers and their rights in a broad and significant way. It allows hiring, as incredible as it may seem, through the payment of bonuses, that is, half a minimum wage bonus for some workers, and also represents the end of the 13th salary for some workers. It also represents the end of the Guarantee Fund with the reduction of deposits. The end of pensions and sick pay, the reduction of overtime, the reduction of vacation rights, the reduction of fines paid to workers upon their dismissal, also restricts the inspection of companies and restricts (...) access to Worker justice. And it could lead to the replacement of workers, entrepreneurs can fire those who earn more and can hire or rehire those who earn less. This, in my opinion, is unacceptable because it harms the worker, it harms the health of the worker. Finally, it establishes the green and yellow card already rejected by the Federal Senate. With that I cannot agree.”

Senator Humberto Costa (PT-PE) gave a statement that is worth reproducing in full: “Now, during the pandemic period, I had the opportunity to reread some books that marked my life. And what struck me was a book by Voltaire called Candide or Optimism. And I am making this quote as a reference, to my friend Fernando Bezerra, because Cândido's tutor, Doctor Panglois, was so optimistic that he generated, in the Portuguese language, the adjective Panglossian, and Your Excellency is of a Panglossian optimism and we are used to it here when we vote for the spending ceiling thousands and millions of jobs would be generated in Brazil. When we voted for the Social Security Reform, thousands of jobs would be created in Brazil. When they voted for Labor Reform, thousands of jobs would be created. When they voted for the autonomy of the Central Bank, thousands more jobs would be created. When the privatization of several important bodies was implemented, the discourse was that new and millions of jobs would be generated. Today, this government managed to make the unemployed unemployed, with 7 reais the price of a liter of gasoline, 25% of uber drivers are leaving work. People have no alternative. There are 35 million Brazilians who are in informality. It will not be, my dear Fernando Bezerra, with the withdrawal of rights, which are so few, with the adoption of programs that are, in fact, regimes disguised as slavery, that we will manage to make Brazil generate jobs”.

Senator Randolfe Rodrigues (REDE-AP) makes an assessment of the situation, to demonstrate the impertinence of the proposal, in the following terms: “The price of cooking gas is 120 reais. The price of gasoline goes to 7 reais, and can go beyond that. We are facing a serious water crisis that threatens even the interruption of energy supply. As a result, yesterday there was another readjustment of at least another 15% in the electricity tariff. As if all this were not enough, we have more than 14 million unemployed, 19 million in hunger.”

And he concludes: “Then the government of Jair Bolsonaro (....) thinks that it also has to withdraw the right to vacation from workers, it has to reduce the FGTS, it has to hinder registration in the work permit and it has to reduce compensation in case of dismissal. As if it weren't enough to think that there are so many misfortunes that Brazilians are suffering, then the complement of economic policy now is to withdraw the few rights that remain of Brazilian workers, because in the view of minister Paulo Guedes, the same minister who said that when he went to the supermarket all the world greeted or hugged him, in his view, to create jobs, you have to withdraw the right to vacation, to create jobs, you have to reduce the worker's FGTS. This is the remedy to generate employment, in the logic of Minister Paulo Guedes. From the government's point of view, the disgrace made is not enough. Gasoline at 7 is too little, beans at 14 is too little, the price of meat at more than 30-35 is too little, the minimum rights of workers still have to be withdrawn. That's how they think they're going to generate jobs. It is this logic, which is perverse, on a level of cruelty.”

Senator Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG) also asked for the rejection of the objects that overflowed the original MP.

Then, the voting began, with a few more short manifestations worth mentioning, such as that of Senator Zenaide Maia (leader of PROS – PROS-RN): “The PROS releases the bench, but I vote 'NO'. This is a labor reform and this is not the time to persecute workers.”

Senator Fabiano Contarato (leader of REDE – REDE-ES) took the same position: “Mr. President, REDE guides the 'NO' vote because it understands that this is a labor reform. Once again, it is violating due legislative process, as our colleague rightly said, it is violating workers' rights. The NETWORK guides the 'NO' vote.”

Senator Simone Tebet (leader of the Feminist Group – MDB-MS): “Mr. President, there is no consensus within the women's bench, therefore, we are releasing it. But I will vote against it. I understand that there is a material defect, the violation of the article of the Federal Constitution. And more than that, we are missing the great opportunity to bring, through a bill of this House, a work, a responsible project, Senator Paulo, talking after a public hearing in the Commission, opening the opportunity for our young people, in this moment of crisis, come to the job market. But not like that, Mr. President. Not of haste. Not at the expense of portfolio registration. Three years. Our young people having to work in a precarious way. Because we don't have the conditions, we don't have the courage to share the country's social responsibility with the big ones. We always want to impute fiscal responsibility, always at the expense of the neediest population.”

Once the votes were registered, President Rodrigo Pacheco (DEM-MG) proclaimed the following result: “The single round voting is closed. I order the general secretariat of the board to show the result on the panel. 27 senators voted 'YES', 47 senators 'NO', 1 abstention. Rejected the constitutional assumptions of relevance and urgency, financial and budget adequacy of MP 1045 of 2021. Conversion Bill n. 17 of 2021 and the amendments presented. The matter goes to the archive.”

Finally, it is worth mentioning the speech of the PLV17 rapporteur, Senator Confúcio Moura (MDB-RO), whose proposal was rejected by the majority of Senators: “Mr. Chairman, I first want to thank Your Excellency, the leader Fernando Bezerra, for nominating my name to report on this important PM. I would like to thank Casa's consultants, who did a fantastic, great job, the office's advisors, Flávio and Vivian, who did an exquisite job for me. Thanks for the manifestations of all parliamentarians. And I don't dispute the downvote. The report was defeated. I accept. And I don't argue. Congratulations to all of you. Thank you very much."

Labor “reform”

As can be seen, the Brazilian Federal Senate has historically positioned itself in relation to the issue of precarious work in Brazil, expressly admitting how much such a policy is contrary to the interests of the nation, favoring only large companies and international capital, in addition to to promote and enhance the suffering of the Brazilian people.

From the point of view of the labor “reform” of 2017, Senators and Senators made it clear how much the rush to vote at the box office and without a broad debate with society on deep issues and of great social, economic and human reach is addictive, incorrigibly, the legislative process, denouncing, still, how the Federal Senate did not carry out its revision function with regularity in the vote of the bill of the “reform”.

In this regard, it is important to highlight the following manifestations:

– “Temer broke up with the MDB nationally when he voted for labor reform, and those who want to break up in the upcoming elections, make the joke of voting in favor of this matter. It is logical that this matter needs a deeper debate.” – OMAR AZIS (PSD-AM);

– “It is important to understand that we need to rescue the due legislative process in the country, institutional respect, this has been weakening over time with serious damage to the citizen and to democracy as a whole. In this case, the repeated attempt to carry out a labor reform through MP is legally inappropriate and morally unacceptable, this is not the right path. So, I recognize and value the great effort of the rapporteur Senator Confúcio Moura and, if the commitment presented by the leader of the government is a fact, that this MP be rejected and that the projects related to employment relationship programs be presented, by the due to the legislative process, listening to society and enabling the production of norms that have a real impact on society” – ALESSANDRO VIEIRA (CITIZENSHIP/SE);

– “MP has to have urgency and relevance and cannot take advantage of it to carry out reforms that are far from being consensual in this country.” – CID GOMES (PDT/CE):

– “We do not want to be conniving here with any withdrawal of workers’ rights, so just now Senator Omar spoke out, as well as Otto, and I speak of both because they are from the second largest party in the Federal Senate, the MDB is the largest party with 16 senators. Your Excellency just manifested here, all in the opposite direction of the labor reform content. (...) therefore, there is no way to stop expressing myself in defense of the worker and against the MP, not because of the original text, but because of what was built with the entry of 73 new articles and which aim to change the CLT by a shortcut, without that there is a great national debate. “ – EDUARDO BRAGA (MDB LEADER – MDB/AM);

– “I keep asking myself what to say in the face of an attack on workers' rights in the midst of a global pandemic. This story is already repeating itself, Mr. president. We came with the labor reform in 2017, which vilified the rights of workers.” – FABIANO CONTARATO (NETWORK/ ES);
– “It is a mockery of the legislative process. No more debate, if you use MP to that limit of adding to a project of 25 articles, 69 new articles and 70 devices on the CLT. That's what I was calling, then, a labor reform” – JOSÉ ANIBAL (PSDB/SP);

– “The way politics in this country is being done is very sad, Mr. President. This 135-page report was available to our advisors only this afternoon. Which advisor of ours read this? As much as I trust Sen. Confucius Moura, which amendments did he accept, which ones did he reject, what do we know about it? Impossible to read there and in the advisory offices because we didn't have time, impossible to trust the Chamber, unfortunately there is no longer the thread of the mustache, the word." – ORIOVISTO GUIMARÃES (PODEMOS/PR);

– “Yes, we made an agreement with the participation of Pres. Rodrigo Pacheco, with the consent of Pres. Artur Lira, (SOM SOME QUICKLY) report by Senator Confúcio Moura, removing all devices that alter the CLT, which will be dealt with through PL, giving the necessary time for the matter to be debated, as requested by several senators, by the Sen. Paulo Paim, that respect, Paulo Rocha, Portinho, Otto Alencar, these senators will be answered in their concerns of not using the MP to deal with provisions of the CLT.” – FERNANDO BEZERRA COELHO (MDB/PE);

– “Remember that, for several years, we made gestures here and nothing so far, job creation has not come, meat is absurd, gas is absurd, and unfortunately, my dear friend Fernando, the economy of the government failed, the population down there is hungry and there is no point in saying that it will generate jobs, that it will happen (...). So we are going to vote and I am sure that today we are going to give, not two defeats for the government, but we are going to defend the real workers and defend them by rejecting these matters, rejecting the MP and, of course, approving the DL.” WEVERTON (PDT/MA);

– “It is a labor reform, people, of workers who, in 2017, when they dismantled the CLT, already took everything, promising jobs and what we are seeing in this country is a lot of hunger and until now, with all due respect to the leader of the government, there is no plan to leverage the economy; everything that comes to this house is to take away worker rights.” – ZENAIDE MAIA (PROS-RN).

Finally, returning to the initially formulated approach, with regard to the Federal Senate specifically, it seems important, even with all these manifestations, to contain optimism, even though all these expressed statements may have the effect of compromising the future behavior of its speakers. What will come ahead on crucial issues for the country, democracy and social rights, will be decisive even for a better understanding of what, in fact, moved Senators and Senators in this vote.

In addition, the concrete effects of this important fact depend on several other social, political and legal actors, in relation to which the statements above still need to echo.

What needs to be assumed as a general perception, especially at this historical moment in which Brazilian society is in chaos, is that a real turnaround towards effective respect for constitutionally guaranteed social rights plays an essential role in the necessary process – which we urgently need to implement – construction of the democratic order, because, as stated by Wladmir Saflate (see here), along the same lines as I argued in a previous text (see here) the present government is only sustained by the alliance it maintains with the dominant economic class regarding the institutionalization of mechanisms that allow a greater plundering of the working class, and this is done, above all, through the dismantling of the democratic order, the shaking of credibility institutions and disregard for constitutional guarantees.

In any case, it seems to be more important than ever to maintain mistrust, since, concretely, it would have to be very evident for the exploitative alliances of the ruling class that conferring absolute power on someone in return for meeting their immediate interests is something that can run away from any control. The big question, for the bulk of the Brazilian population, is that one cannot fail to consider, first, that a real popular democracy never existed in Brazil and, second, that, for capital, as long as its interests are met, any system politician works. In this context, it is even worth asking: is democracy compatible with capitalism, even more so in countries with dependent capitalism?
It would certainly be relevant to learn, once and for all, that there is no democracy when the fullness of the human condition is intended for just a few, and also that there is no constitutional order when fundamental rights do not reach, in a concrete and equal way. , the entirety of the population. But was there at any time in Brazil the implementation of a social, political and economic project aimed at the full realization of these rights?

Regardless of all this, it is undeniable that a historical window has opened, including for the working class to perceive itself in the historical process, as well as for it to be able to go beyond formal logic and understand how urgent the concreteness of a truly egalitarian society is. notably in the essential aspects of sharing the means of production and collectively produced wealth.

From the more restricted point of view of labor relations, the Senate’s rejection of the labor “mini-reform” is historically relevant because it represents the explicitness of the illegitimacy of the 2017 “reform” and the unconstitutionality of the devices that encouraged the increase in precariousness at work during the pandemic, with enormous potential to reflect on how the legal community has positioned itself regarding the norms that make work and the human condition precarious.

But it would be too rash to say that it was a milestone for legislative action on the issue related to work in the country, representing an abandonment of the neoliberal rationality that has driven it so far.

For a concrete change in this sense to be envisaged, much still needs to happen. Firstly, it would be essential for the Federal Senate to remain firm with this position also in relation to other social issues in progress, notably those related to the dismantling of the State and Social Security.

And for there to be any less restrained optimism, it would be essential that several other political subjects have the ability to formulate their self-criticism and assume the need to break the ties they even maintained with the interests that corrupt the human condition.

The deliberation of the Federal Senate could well represent the taking of a position in the direction of building a nation in Brazil. However, considering the present political context, many questions remain in the air, especially when it is verified that, even after so many explicitly coup-like speeches by the President of the Republic in the “September 7”, no institutional reaction to the height of the attacks launched was verified, notably after the President made a nod of reconciliation.

Would the dominant alliances, after the clash of forces, have been renewed to guarantee the President's stability and thus carry forward his government's ultra-neoliberal economic agenda? In this context, the decision of the Federal Senate was merely a message to express that the President's authoritarian outbursts would constitute an impediment to the approval of the economic agenda, given that, without it, that is, without the counterpart to economic power, his government ( then yes - and not because of negligence in the face of more than 585 thousand lives lost) would it be effectively at risk? Would the President's letter, acknowledging receipt of the message, be a reaffirmation of his commitment to that agenda - even without effectively representing any guarantee of preservation of the rules of the democratic game?

Put more clearly: what can result for the working class from this story so far poorly told?

The answers to these questions are essential to understand even the moment we are experiencing.

The next facts will tell!

*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).

I would like to thank the following GPTC-USP members for recording the speeches during the Senate session: Claudia Urano Machado; Caio Silva Melo; Francine Rossi Nunes Fernandes de Oliveira.

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