Monday, July 14, 2014

World Cup workers struggle for basic rights

As many enjoy the World Cup games in Sao Paolo, most remain oblivious to the abusive working conditions of labourers.

Many labourers migrated from rural areas to Sao Paolo looking for work and financial opportunity [Getty Images]

As hundreds of thousands of football fans enjoy the beautiful games in Sao Paulo, many rural 

migrants drawn to Brazil’s commercial capital to build stadiums and other infrastructure projects
 say their lives have been anything but pretty in the lead-up to the mega-event. In fact, many
 labourers who worked on construction projects ahead of the World Cup say they  experienced 
rights abuses, including long hours and dangerous conditions.Flavio, who hails from the Alagoas
 region in northeastern Brazil and didn’t want his real name  published, said weeks of carrying
 50kg bags of concrete and working at heights of 50 meters was too much for some workers.
"Some people lost their job when they could not manage [the] lack of sufficient rest," he told
 Al Jazeera.Many analysts had worried that Sao Paulo's main Itaquerao stadium would not be
 finished before the World Cup began. After working the clock, workers managed to have the
 facility ready for opening kick-off,unions and human rights groups said the rush came with a
 human cost Due partially to constructiondelays, many labourers were working 12 hour shifts
 and giving up holidays to get the stadiums ready, angering trade unions.  "Working 84 hours
 a week is a clear violation of labour laws. It is clearly not acceptable, " Jin Sook Lee, a 
representatives from the Building and Woodworkers International (BWI) said. BWI affiliates representing workers at World Cup construction sites in Brazil have been demanding decent
 working conditions and a wage increase of 10 percent.Demanding labourers work 12-hour
 shifts without holiday is prohibited  under Brazilian laws, Sook said adding that "companies
 must stop this practice".
Loss of life
Adriano, a construction worker from Sao Paulo who didn’t want his 
real name published, worked 12-hour shifts on stadium projects,
 pointed to an area off to the side of the Itaquerao stadium. "It was here the last worker fell to
 his death in March this year," he said.A total of nine men lost their lives during construction
 at World Cup stadiums in Brazil, including at least three workers at building sites in Sao Paulo.
"We do not accept that the World Cup claims lives," Antonio de Souza Ramalho, president of the
 Sintracon-SP civil construction workers union of Sao Paulo, said.FIFA, the global body
 responsible for organising the World Cup, declined to comment on the working conditions at 
stadiums in is the industry that generates the most jobs in Brazil with
 3.12 million new jobs in 2013 - but it is also the area where the number of work-related
 accidents is growing the most.
 There was 12 percent increase the last years - in 2010 and 55,000 work-related
 accidents were  reported compared to 62,000 in 2012 according to the Brazilian
 Labour Ministry.In Sao Paulo, the number of workplace accidents in the construction
 industry rose from 1,386  in 2012 to 7,133 in 2013, according to statistics compiled 
by Sintracon-SP."The construction workers are among the poorest in Brazil and are
 often not aware of their rights.And the world soccer body FIFA has never shown any
 concern about the workers", Antônio de Souza Ramalho said. Human rights activists 
say many of the large construction firms involved in World Cup projects,  including 
Odebrecht which had major contracts for the Sao Paulo stadium, donate heavily to 
political campaigns, so elected officials are weary of criticising their records on labour
 rights.World Cups around the world draw attention to the plight of workers. Two workers
 died during construction for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Sochi in Russia, host
 of the 2018 World Cup, has had 60 deaths due to construction done for that event.
 A Guardian investigation in September last year reported year thousands of migrant 
laborers endure appalling in Qatar's preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.
In addition to alleged abuses faced by construction workers in Sao Paulo, 
Amnesty International criticised: "The total disregard for human rights in evictions
 in Rio de Janeiro to make way for construction works for the World Cup."

No comments:

Post a Comment