Through ordinances, bills and, especially, the collaboration of the Judiciary, little by little, the union agenda of the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) is advancing. The affection for former “companions” on the journey has been observed since the beginning of the current term, whether through appointments to government positions or by meeting the demands of entities.
In this sense, the most recent initiative was Ordinance 3665, signed last Tuesday (14) by the Minister of Labor, Luiz Marinho, which changes the rule for working hours in the commerce sector on public holidays.
Previously, the rule established by the government of former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL) granted permanent authorization to operate on Sundays and holidays for commerce in general, as long as the working hours established in the Consolidation of Labor Laws (CLT) were respected.
Now, employees in the segment will only be able to work on holidays with authorization by the Collective Labor Agreement. In practice, the measure gives more power to unions, responsible for negotiating the different categories.
“This is a government movement to value the union negotiation instrument”, says lawyer Mariana Siqueira, from the Madrona Fialho office, member of the OAB Working Committee.
Defender of collective negotiations, she emphasizes that the ordinance incorporates the objective of bringing a large portion of companies to the unions’ base.
“Most large companies already have agreements and collective agreements that allow them to work on holidays. But most small and medium-sized entrepreneurs are not unionized. It is a way of bringing these companies and their employees under the supervision of the entities”, he assesses.
Ordinance tramples on discussion and generates criticism from public and private agents
In the lawyer’s assessment, the revocation goes against the spirit of direct negotiation between employers and employees, in addition to having been carried out without discussion with the sectors involved. Since publication, the ordinance has received a series of criticisms from public and private agents.
Opposition senators expressed their annoyance on social media. Rogério Marinho (PL-RN) said that the change in the rule is an “attack” against the economy, “harms workers and employers” and is yet another measure by the Lula government “in favor of the old and rotten trade unionism”.
Ciro Nogueira (PP-PI) wrote on unions – to empower union members – in the case of weekend work”. The senators intend to propose alternatives to reverse the effects of the ordinance.
Among private agents, the Brazilian Association of Supermarkets (Abras) and the National Confederation of Commerce in Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC) criticized the initiative in a note. For Abras, this is “a siege on maintaining and creating jobs, the biggest challenge of the century in generating income and value for Brazilian society”.
The CNC, the main representative of the country’s tertiary sector, highlighted that the measure disregards that commercial activities “constitute essential and of notable public interest” and that the ordinance “contributes to generating a climate of legal uncertainty at a time when the country” needs urgently to regain strength in its economy”.
On the union side, the National Confederation of Commerce Workers (CNTC) celebrated the measure, which, according to a statement, was the result of a collaboration between union entities and confederations, which defended, together with minister Luiz Marinho, the need to “repair an error historical” which, according to the confederation, “began under Michel Temer’s government, when the legislation that guaranteed the right of commercial workers to negotiate working conditions on holidays was disrespected”.
Trade unionism is the birthplace of the PT and has gained space in the government
A founding movement of the PT, trade unionism was a great supporter of Lula’s election and has been paying the bill ever since. The president, in turn, never forgot his origins or his former allies.
For the first level, he appointed the Minister of Labor, Luiz Marinho, former president of the Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), to carry out the idea of repealing the Labor Reform of the Temer government, which abolished the mandatory Union Tax and drained the coffers. of the entities.
Arm in arm with the trade unions, the minister spent the entire year discussing new forms of financing for the entities. To do this, he counted on the help of the Federal Supreme Court, which authorized, in September this year, the charging of assistance contributions from non-unionized workers, establishing that the fee may be charged “as long as the right to object is assured”.
The understanding of the rapporteur, Minister Gilmar Mendes, in the Court trial was followed by nine ministers, in a change in the Court’s jurisprudence, which until then considered the deduction in the salary of those who were not unionized to be unconstitutional.
Workers’ and employers’ centers design new contribution
In parallel with the STF’s decision, a group created by the Ministry of Labor has been working, since April, with trade unions and employer confederations, on a bill (PL) that creates a new contribution to be deducted directly from workers’ salaries.
This is not the same contribution allowed by the STF nor, according to the government, a reissue of the extinct Union Tax, which was compulsory, paid once a year, and with a value corresponding to one day of work.
“It is a much broader contribution than the assistance contribution, approved by the Supreme Court, which is also in the CLT”, says Clemente Ganz Lúcio, coordinator of the Forum of Centrals, which is part of the working group.
It will be linked to the implementation of salary adjustment agreements between employers and employees. The main impasse was the division of resources between the entities, but the draft is expected to be sent to Congress later this year.
Luiz Marinho even expressed dissatisfaction with the Supreme Court’s judgment, claiming that the contributions would be confused. In fact, it is not a simple task to justify so many discounts on workers’ salaries.
Working group has an original defect and will not change union structure
The working group created by the government should also, in theory, update the union structure, considered archaic and corporatist by experts on the subject. “We have a system inspired by the Italian fascist model, where the State seeks to control labor relations”, says Antônio Galvão Peres, professor at Insper.
For him, the central problem with the financing of entities, already known, is the lack of freedom for workers to choose the union that represents them. The single union, provided for in the Constitution, allows the existence of only one union per work category, which makes workers a captive market.
The government group, Galvão believes, has an original flaw, as it is made up only of already established unions and employers.
“To reform the current structure, scholars, academics and researchers of labor relations should be included,” he states. A group composed exclusively of benefiting parties will not modify a structure to deprive itself of power”, states the professor.
Other unionists were assigned to state-owned companies and public bodies
In the first month of government, Lula and the PT worked hard to appoint trade unionists in the recreated “Conselhão”, the Council for Sustainable Economic and Social Development. Little by little, the president accommodated other names.
To command the Social Service of Industry (Sesi), Lula appointed Vagner Freitas, former president of the CUT, who gained prominence in the demonstrations against Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, when he defended “going to the streets entrenched, with a gun in his hand” to defend the PT member’s mandate.
Freitas is a leader of the São Paulo Bank Workers’ Union, the historical birthplace of founders and leaders of the PT, such as former ministers Luiz Gushiken, Ricardo Berzoini and former party treasurer João Vaccari Neto, all involved in investigations such as Operation Lava Jato .
Also coming from the Bank Workers Union were two new pension fund presidents. The largest of them, Previ, owned by Banco do Brasil employees, was now headed by João Luiz Fukunaga, appointed by the bank’s president, Tarciana Medeiros.
For the Correios pension fund, Postalis, Lula appointed Camilo Fernandes dos Santos, also honorary president of the Bank Workers’ Union. Both pension funds were investigated by Operation Greenfield on suspicion of billion-dollar fraud.
For the directors of Petrobras, which pay an average salary of R$50,000, Jean Paul Prates appointed members of trade unions in the sector. Among them, José Maria Rangel, member of the Single Federation of Oil Workers (FUP), affiliated to the CUT. As head of the oil company’s social works department, he commands a budget of R$450 million.
In addition to dedication to its comrades, the Lula government invested in its relationship with trade unions, especially the CUT, the oldest and deeply identified with the PT, addressing issues such as the readjustment of the Income Tax table and the increase in the minimum wage above inflation, which should increase the primary deficit, already estimated above the rule of the government’s new fiscal framework.
Education unions also had demands met
Meeting union demands also reached entities linked to Education, which have been asking for the repeal of the new secondary education for some time. Recently, the Lula government, through the Ministry of Education, gave in to pressure and presented a bill to the National Congress with changes to the model that go in the opposite direction to international education policies.
Presented by the Minister of Education, Camilo Santana, the project resumes the distribution and workload of basic training subjects that existed before the reform, which gave the possibility for students to opt for technical education or to delve deeper into specific areas of knowledge.
The idea was to improve the quality of subjects, prevent student dropout with content targeted to their area of interest and, at the same time, facilitate the provision of technical education. For unions, this model harms teachers, as the offering of subjects would depend more on students’ choices.
With the return to the so-called “encyclopedic curriculum”, all subjects with a few hours each, teachers will also be less demanding in terms of training and performance, without the need for involvement in interdisciplinary projects.
In the assessment of education specialist and president of Instituto Singularidades, Claudia Costin, the interruption of the secondary education reform in April opened space for corporatist interests. “The tidying up brake was correct, but I think that some flaws need to be corrected by Congress. The main one is that they partially surrendered to pressure from the unions,” she told People’s Gazette .