Ten years after the creation of the Mercosur, the thousands of workers who traverse the borders of Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay in search of jobs still lack the right to social security, retirement, and social benefits.
Labor legislation in the Mercosur is one of the main grievances of the Brazilian central unions. The topic was discussed, Thursday, September 29, in Belo Horizonte, at the 4th Encounter with the Mercosur, by workers, entrepreneurs, the government, and representatives of social organizations, all members of the Mercosur Economic and Social Advisory Forum.
The central unions’ representative to the Forum, Sílvia Portela, said that the definition of agreements or laws to protect workers in the Mercosur is essential for job creation in the bloc.
According to Portela, unemployment affects 12-14% of the economically active population in the Mercosur, and over 60% of the workers are employed informally.
"The majority of people in the Mercosur do not have formal job contracts. They work without social security coverage, so it is useless to talk about implementing the Social or more democratic Mercosur, if we fail to face up seriously to these issues, which, besides specific laws, require an economic policy of integrated production that will create jobs," the union leader argued.
Portela said that the formulation of labor legislation in the Mercosur will be debated on October 23 by the interministerial Work and Employment Group that is being installed in Brazil. In her view, "the proposal should pick up backing to be submitted to the meeting of Mercosur presidents in December."
The "Encounter with the Mercosur" in Belo Horizonte is one in a series of events sponsored by the Presidential Office Staff to discuss ways to expand the participation of workers, entrepreneurs, and non-governmental organizations in the bloc. The other three encounters were held in Belém (Pará state), Salvador (Bahia), and Recife (Pernambuco).