MPT opens investigation against councilor for apology for slave labor

The Public Ministry of Labor in Rio Grande do Sul (MPT-RS) opened an investigation against councilor Sandro Fantinel (Patriota) for having made xenophobic statements against workers rescued in a situation analogous to slavery in wineries in Bento Gonçalves and also for defending work slave.

In a speech at the Caxias do Sul City Council, on February 28, Fantinel said that entrepreneurs in the grape and wine sector should no longer hire “those people from above”, in reference to the workers in Bahia who were rescued in the wineries . The councilor also defended the hiring of Argentines who, according to him, would be clean, hardworking, correct, work on time, keep the house clean and on the day they leave they thank the boss. Fantinel completed by saying that the only culture that Bahians have is living on the beach playing drums and, therefore, it would be normal for people to have this type of problem.

For the Labor attorney and deputy national coordinator for the eradication of Slave Labor at the MPT, Italvar Medina, the councilor’s statements “unduly minimize the extreme gravity of contemporary slavery, seek to blame the victims themselves for the offenses suffered, have prejudiced content and , to make matters worse, encourages discrimination in labor relations, in violation of the Constitution of the Republic, legislation and international commitments assumed by Brazil”.

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On the night of February 22, a joint action between the Federal Highway Police (PRF), Federal Police (PF) and the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE) rescued 207 workers who faced degrading working conditions in the grape harvest in Bento Gonçalves, in Serra Gaúcha.

The rescue took place after three workers fled the scene, contacted the PRF, in Caxias do Sul, and filed a complaint. The workers, who were attracted by the promise of a salary of BRL 3,000, reported facing delays in wage payments, physical violence, long working hours and the offer of spoiled food. They also reported that, since they arrived at the beginning of the month, they were coerced to remain in place under penalty of paying a fine for breach of the employment contract.

In the action, the PF arrested a Bahian businessman responsible for the company responsible for hiring the workers.

In a note, the wineries, which used the workforce, said they were unaware of the irregularities practiced against workers recruited by the outsourced Oliveira & Santana, a service provider.

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