Reports indicate that:
• Not all social rights are covered by the relevant legislation and enforced in Brazil. In particular legislation to protect Freedom of Association and
the Right to Organize is lacking
• Rights like freedom of association and collective bargaining are not upheld.
• There is evidence confirming compulsory and/or forced labour in some mesoregions of the country. Given the lack of inspections, the extent cannot be determined.
• There is evidence confirming discrimination in respect of employment and/or occupation, and/or gender.
• There is evidence confirming child labour in some mesoregions of the country.
• The country is not signatory to ILO Convention No. 87: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize.
• There is evidence that any groups (including women) do not feel adequately protected.
• Violations of labour rights are not limited to specific sectors.
Forest management in Brazil, in some cases, is still accomplished with low mechanization and a large amount of human effort, especially on small farms and for the management of native forests. The sector has a very low degree of professionalization, and a large proportion of the workers learned how to work in a practical way, with no professional guidance. This in combination with a persistent culture that treats as unimportant the issue of occupational sasfety and health, results in a large number of workers exposed to risks. Risks relate to the health and security of workers because it includes chemical, physical and even biological risks (such as poisonous animals and endemic illnesses). Important risks related to Occupational Safety & Health are high levels of dust, risks of non-fatal accidents (especially for sawmills, less for furniture manufacturing), exposure of workers to hazardous substances and chemicals and lack of awareness on them, lack of the use of PPEs (due to the hot climate), hearing damage, forklift hits, lack of hygiene and other in-factory issues.
The inspections carried out by the Ministry of Labor and Employment are insufficient to ensure compliance with the law, specifically in the rural sector. The results obtained during inspections, such as the labor analogous to slavery list, demonstrate that there are serious issues in the sector. In general, the labor laws are not well respected in the forest sector in Brazil. This is corroborated by the index of ‘Rule of Law’ of 48 (on a scale from 0 to 100), instituted by the World Bank.
Additional reported observations:
• In the north of Brazil (where the forests are located), welfare is significantly lower than the south. With increasing poverty, there are increasing risks that no sufficient investments are made to ensure health and safety at work by companies. Adding to that, the government is better equipped to perform regular inspections in the south and south-east of Brazil which means law enforcement is better in those regions.
• In general, problems increase with the remoteness of the operation: in the middle of nowhere (like forest) there are higher risks of problems with dust, noise and chemicals. In cities, this would result in problems with neighbours, so there is less risk.