Saturday, May 21, 2011

Quality of Workers' Care Better in Brazil, study shows

A study finds that Brazilian workers are better taken care of than American workers. Duh! I figured out the same thing when my husband first told me he had a month off work. I wondered if he had quit and was lying to me. That or was sleeping with the boss. Either way, beach trip!

But it turns out that legally working Brazilians do have a right to vacation time, an entire month of it! Not only that, if their job follows the law, the company has to pay them a paycheck and a half that month.

Hi, my name is Rachel and I would like a job in Brazil!

The first example in the Globo was a comparison between the fast food industries. The American McDonalds workers do not get holidays, healthcare, or welfare. That last one was translated and I am not quite sure what they mean by it. I'm guessing that it means they have to eat the food and without healthcare their basic welfare is shot to hell.

But there is some truth to this study. If you have a job where your Brazilian workbook is signed, you have some serious rights! You have a decent maternity leave, vacation time, sick time, sometimes healthcare (although they do have a public one in place), and many other safeguards. You can even get your lunches and transportation to work paid!

I think Reagan just rolled over in his grave.

And while not a perfect system, workers' rights are strong enough that some feel the need to protect themselves from their employees. For example, you can fill out paperwork stating that your home is the only place you have to live. Seems a bit odd, right? Well, if you do not pay your maid correctly she can take you to court. They will assume your assets, including you home, until things have been figured out. Keep in mind that this is in extreme cases but this document will save you from having to vacate your property.

All this comes from the fact that many Brazilian workers have been mistreated for many years. The workers came together, creating unions, and fought for their rights. Hell, they have mandatory extra pay for Sundays! Brazilian workers said "screw you, we don't want to count hours, you give us the day!" And they did.

Regardless, pat on the back to worker unions everywhere! And an extra pinch of the cheek to the Brazilian ones, you guys did good.


  1. Put me down as pro-union. Needless to say the unionless-USA worker has seen their comnpensation SHRINK over the past decades.

    But without getting into the details, the laws here in Brazil that largly favor workers have gone a bit too far and placed a rather etraordinary burden on employers.

    But for sure - if you are a worker, you definitely want a job where they sign your workbook. I had a student who was a professional archetect with an advanced degree who was paid R$7,00/hour off the books at a local firm. Rediculous! She recently got a job that signs her book and provides all benefits. She is quite happy!

  2. Yeah, I agree with Jim that there are two sides to the coin: these very extensive workers' rights make it super hard to fire people and making hiring employees expensive, which is why so many small business do everything under the table. I had a student who was a plastic surgeon with a crummy receptionist who he wanted to fire, and he said it was a huge headache, even though she was clearly a bad employee and he was in the right.

    There's also the question of a really comfortable unemployment package for people who are fired, which leads people to just work under the table somewhere for 6 months so that they can get the unemployment benefits and the extra salary.

    I think with the word "welfare" in the translation, they may have been referring to those transportation and meal cards that Brazilians get (which as we know, Americans don't).

    It's all very interesting!

  3. Rachel,

    We have to thank folks who are in their 80's, like my grandma and people of her generation.
    They fought long and hard in the 1930's when most of these rights were conquered!
    They went on strikes, fought the militaries, took beatings, got arrested, set factories on fire, but by God they got what they wanted!
    The US is in deep trouble. I don't know how these mean greedy Republicans convince people to vote for them, and in return they screw the people and the country.
    Firefighters and teachers are being blamed for our economic disaster now when Wall Street was bailed out and it's executives are enjoying their bail out money in comfortable New York city suburbs.
    It's a insult to any inteligent person, but it happens, in the name of family values, that they do not have, by the way, scandal after scandal.
    Meanwhile, Washington allows factories to pack up and leave the country. Unions are being shut down, and industries and packing up and moving to far away countries like China and India.
    The US need to tax the hell out of imports, make sure production and jobs come back to the US.
    Let's see if Jesus takes enough Republicans back to heaven with him this afternoon of May 21st, we might just have a chance to keep Democrats in power long enough to recover the economy and save some jobs and Unions. :)
    Minus 4 hours for Rupture time, let's crack the champagne open, it this crap really happens I don't wanna be sober for it! ;)


  4. "Decent maternity leave" has to be up for understatement of the year. A minimum of 4months paid leave (up to 6 depending on your company), which if you line it up with your vaca is 5months at home, paid, with the new baby. That is pretty sweet.

    I think by "welfare" they mean food card, restaurant card, bus card, tuition discounts, free courses, gas card, bonus card, etc.

    Since people get paid so miserably in Brazil, the companies pile on the "benefits". They get taxed on the employees income, but they don't pay a payroll tax on all the other in kind goods.

    So..the metro pays the government taxes on a salary of about R$600/month per worker. Each worker, however gets a R$600 food card, R$100 bonus card, bus fare (they deduct 6% of your salary for that), health and dental plans (the worker has to pay R$7/month for a couple for the insurance) a huge basket of food for Christmas, 30-50% off college courses, help paying for daycare if you have kids and a whole bunch of other goodies to help you make it through the month.

    No one would be able to survive off the minimum wage here. I find it cute how Brazilians pat themselves on the back for "being nice" to their employees when they are really just trying to get around the tax code while paying a semi-livable wage.

    If you are upper class the non-salary benefits are a nice bonus. Lower class, they are a re-labeled necessity.

  5. True story on business culture clash.
    I worked for an american telecom service company here in BR that had just started their operations. By year 2 they decided to merge with another company and by doing so they thought it was best to fire everyone and rehire from the other company. What a surprise they had when they found out how much they would have to pay to let us go.
    A lot of cheap talk trying to convice us to sign a proposal giving up our rights or even refunding the money to them after the dismissal was over. There is no way you can buy out from CLT but they did try and hard.
    In their minds, they were doing us a favor since we were going to get a "new" job. They had no clue the other company could fire us within 3 months (period of adaptation) with no onus. They thought the CLT was a communist set of laws, rofl.

    And I totally agree with anonymous, "Decent maternity leave has to be up for understatement of the year", so true. Don't forget if you are a public server it's 6 months + vacation. And that goes for adoption of children with age up to 7 years as well. The dad also gets 15 days off + the assurance he can not be fired withing 12 months (pregnancy period + 3 months after birth). It's more then sweet, it's pure honey!

  6. Anonymous,

    The minimum wage is just a reference used by companies to create a pay scale of a certain amount of "minimum wage" units, nobody is expected to live on one minimum wage unit.
    The government also uses the same reference to calculate retirement benefits and so forth.
    Salaries in Brazil have been growing strong and high executives are paid better in Sao Paulo and Rio than New York or London right now.
    The Brazilian middle class is also growing fast along with the consumer purchase power.
    Things are not ideal yet, but are improving in the right direction.
    Brazil is not loosing industries to China and jobs are still being created at a fast pace, unemployment rate in Brazil is the lower in recorded history at the moment.
    Plus, all these benefits were created in the 1920's and 1930's when the minimum wage was much higher, so there in no conection between the benefits and the minimum wage.


  7. I meant a decent maternity leave because it's just that, pretty damn good. Go over to Europe and you'll find countries that give 10 months paid or a full year at 80% pay. That's amazing!

  8. Ray - many, many people are paid one (or two) minimum salaries. Unless you are a university graduate with some good luck -- wages SUCK.

    It amazes me how little people like grocery store checkout clerks or boutique sales people are paid. HOW DO THEY LIVE!?

  9. @Jim, in order to live on minimum wage, people pool their incomes with other family members and live with their parents for as long as possible. Trying to live independently on minimum wage is absolutely out of the question.

  10. I remember when the supermarket checkout people in San Diego went on strike for better wages. They were getting paid $16 an hour and wanted more. Plus they didn't want their $10 co-pay for health insurance.

    I don't usually cross picket lines but I felt this was being greedy.

  11. Ahh Rachel I remember that strike. I was being yelled at for "crossing" the line to purchase groceries. Sorry, but I need to buy my food somewhere!

    I know a few people that were making around $16/hr, and their employers cut hours just so they won't get health insurance.

  12. Jim,

    You are correct! I should say, very little people in LARGE cities live on one minimum wage unit and as Corine explained they do live with family or friends.
    You absolutely can't live on minimum wage alone, but than again, who can? Where?