Brazil - Paraguay - Decent Work and Life Seminar for Immigrant Workers from Brazil and Paraguay (2011)

5 October 2010

OP: I am Ortelio Palacios, from Força Sindical Brazil, and we are very concerned about and interested in the issue of migration between Brazil and Paraguay. This is the second event held on this theme here in Paraguay and we have a colleague, Maria Susi Clea de Asis, here with us from a very important sector in Brazil, the textile sector, in which many migrant colleagues from Brazil’s brother country, Paraguay, work. We would like to know a little about how the work on this issue is being developed in your country and especially in this large sector, the textile sector, represented by Força Sindical.

MSC: Good morning everyone. In our experience, in Brazil, the considerable level of migration from Paraguay to Brazil is of great importance to our textile sector. These workers come in search of a better life, a better wage, but, unfortunately, this is precisely what they do not find in Brazil: neither a better life nor better employment. The workers end up in a highly precarious situation; they have to work very hard, doing very long hours to be able to earn a wage that allows them to survive in Brazil.

OP: Paraguayan immigrants in Brazil have experienced many difficulties and the trade union movement has shown great sensitivity and the will to contribute more effectively to issues related to their rights. What role have the unions played, and particularly the garment workers’ union, in this situation?

MSC: Our role consists in defending the rights of workers, including the rights of migrant workers, in conjunction with the Labour Ministry of Brazil. We are working extensively on matters related to migration as well as with migrants living in Brazil so that the services they contribute to our sector are valued because, unfortunately, their contribution is not valued. For this reason, the role of the union is to defend the rights of migrant workers in the same way as we defend the rights of Brazilian workers.

OP: There are reports that the Brazilian government is taking significant practical measures; it would seem that Brazil is doing the opposite of what the governments in developed countries such as Europe and the United States are doing with regard to immigration. What role is it playing and what is the government of Brazil doing today to tackle the serious issue of immigration?

MSC: The government’s role is to draw up new laws to secure the legalisation of these people in Brazil. We have a number of bills and various laws in force in Brazil, laws that have already been approved, such as the amnesty law. The government is, therefore, working on its own as well as in conjunction with the unions and with our sector’s union in particular. All these laws are aimed at protecting migrants so that they can reside legally in Brazil and can live a decent life.

OP: Thank you very much, Maria Susi Clea. We would like to say, from Brazil, to our Paraguayan brothers and sisters, that our doors are open to them and that the trade union movement is attentive to the defence of the rights of Paraguayans in Brazil.

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