About three thousand Brazilian workers are participating in the National Minimum Wage March.organized by Brazil’s Workers Central Union (CUT). They began their march. December 13, in the city of Valparaíso, in the state of Goiás, at a distance of 40 kilometers from BrasÀlia, the capital of Brazil.
Their intention is to hand over a letter, on December 15, to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, demanding an increase in the minimum wage.
According to the president of the CUT, Luiz Marinho, the workers are staging a protest in front of the National Congress to press the members of the Congress to approve a minimum wage of US$ 115 (320 reais)
The head of the Presidential Civilian Advisory Staff, Minister José Dirceu, has already declared that the Administration intends to raise the minimum wage to US$ 108 (300 reais), beginning in May, 2005, or to US$ 93 (290 reais), beginning in January.
The minimum wage is currently set at US$ 93 (260 reais).
Brazil showed progress on the five principal items in the annual survey conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
The Labor Overview, covering the first three quarters of 2004, presents a detailed analysis of the evolution of unemployment, informality, real industrial salaries, real minimum wages, and productivity in eleven Latin American and Caribbean countries.
According to the study, the countries included in the survey (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Uruguay, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru) together produce 95% of the region’s wealth.
In the year-to-year comparison with 2003, the study indicates that, during the first nine months of 2004, unemployment fell in six of the eleven countries: Argentina, from 19.1% to 14.6%/ Brazil, from 12.4% to 11.9%; Colombia, from 17.3% to 16%; El Salvador, from 6.6% to 6.5%; Uruguay, from 17.4% to 13.4%; and Venezuela, from 18.8% to 16.1%.
Unemployment remained constant in Costa Rica (6.7%) and rose in four countries: Chile, from 8.9% to 9.2%; Ecuador, from 10% to 11.1%; Mexico, from 3.2% to 3.8%; and Peru, from 9.4% to 9.7%.
The average unemployment rate in the region is 10.5%, equivalent to approximately 19.5 million people.
In analyzing Brazil’s performance in the study, Armand Pereira, ILO director in Brazil, mentioned informality (work without signed labor papers) as one of the chief problems. Over the past 13 years, the informality rate has stayed around 40%.
“Informality has an influence on several factors, such as the number of Social Security contributors. This is worrisome, but there is already a tendency for increasing formality in labor relations, especially in the countryside and the transportation sector,” Pereira affirmed.
Translator: David Silberstein