Enviar este artículo por Correo Electrónicomeatpacking                           

   Brazil - Finland



New boost in fight against

occupational illnesses
in meatpacking plants


This Second Workshop was held in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from June 24 to 26, as a continuation of the June 2008 workshop in Porto Alegre. Once again it was co-organized by the Trade Union Solidarity Center of Finland (SASK), the Federation of Food Industry Workers (SEL)
and the IUF’s Latin American Regional Office.


Among the workshop’s participants were Henri Lindholm and Eila Kämäräinen, representatives of the Federation of Food Industry Workers of Finland (SEL), Liisa Mery, on behalf of the Trade Union Solidarity Center of Finland (SASK), and representatives of Brazil’s Confederation of Food and Agroindustry Workers (CONTAC), the Federation of Food Industry Workers of the State of Sao Paulo (FETIASP), the National Confederation of Food Workers of Brazil (CNTA), members of the IUF’s International and Latin American Executive Committees, and IUF Regional Secretary for Latin America Gerardo Iglesias.


During the workshop participants addressed the various situations and conditions affecting the industry’s workers in their respective countries, after which a special session was devoted to the examination of data and analysis presented by IUF Regional Secretary Gerardo Iglesias on the recent merger of Brazil’s two leading poultry companies, Sadia and Perdigao, which resulted in the creation of the new company Brasil Foods (BRF).


This new company will sell 25 percent of all the chicken marketed worldwide and will employ 125 thousand workers.


SEL General Secretary Henri Lindholm gave an interesting presentation outlining the different aspects of work in Finland’s meatpacking plants, as well as working conditions and labor legislation that applies specifically to them. He also gave a very detailed description of trade union structures inside and outside the companies and the systems in place to regulate worker-management relations.


Dr. Roberto Ruiz, for his part, presented a major scientific study on occupational health in connection with Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs), which was conducted by a large research team that worked for over two years in the field with poultry industry workers.


Lastly, the exchange among the various organizations and institutions participating in the Workshop resulted in the drafting of common guidelines for work, which will serve to direct the efforts to combat occupational illnesses in Brazil’s poultry and meat processing facilities.


What follows are the conclusions drawn by some of the most representative participants at the Workshop.



Dr. Roberto Ruiz

Occupational Health and Working Conditions Specialist


This was a highly positive meeting, allowing Brazil’s labor movement to engage in an extensive information exchange with Finland’s labor movement. Also, we realized that with the findings from a project we implemented in Brazil we have the necessary input to draft proposals regarding changes in the length of the workday and in working conditions in general.


The results we presented here today were obtained through a research study that, to the best of our knowledge, is unprecedented. When we examined the literature available on the subject, prior to beginning our fieldwork, we found nothing similar to what we were setting out to do.


It was a unique experience that involved more than 40 professionals working for two years, 425 workers who suffer from occupational illnesses receiving treatment while removed from their jobs, and 20 thousand medical interventions. Now, with the support of IUF Latin America, we’ll be able to complete the study with the launching of a book and a publication with eight scientific articles covering all our work.


Henri Lindholm

SEL General Secretary


The Workshop was excellent, especially towards the end, when we agreed on a common line of work to guide our efforts from now on. So, in our opinion, the Workshop was a great success.


This project poses a huge challenge, because there are many, many problems, and they’re major problems too. So it’s hard to know where to begin and what direction to take. But we’ve taken the first step and we can now move forward.


The emergence of this new company, Brasil Foods, resulting from the Sadia-Perdigao merger, changed the scenario completely, and that has some effect on our work in the project, because now we have to wait and see who will be put in charge of managing the company, who we’ll be dealing with.


Neuza Barbosa de Lima

Secretary of Education at the Federation of Food Industry Workers of Sao Paulo (FETIASP)


This activity is a continuation of the workshop we held in June 2008 and marks the beginning of the project we drafted then. We’re pleased because we’ve found a common line of work and decided on actions to carry out from now on. I sincerely think that the work accomplished during these three days in Sao Paulo deserves an A+.


I’d like to highlight the work presented by Dr. Roberto Ruiz, who we’ve known for a long time and have enormous respect for, as he has always shown that he is on the side of the workers. It’s very important for the IUF to be able to work with people of Dr. Ruiz’ professional, ethical and political standing.


Siderlei Silva de Oliveira

President of the National Confederation of Food and Agroindustry Workers (CONTAC)


This second meeting, held with fellow unionists from Finland, has been very significant because we’ve made great progress, and we’ve realized that we’re all on the same page in terms of what we want, which is to fight to eliminate occupational illnesses in poultry processing and meatpacking plants.


The assistance provided by our Finnish brothers and sisters is very valuable, because they are one step ahead of us in this issue. Over there, the government and the State have taken an interest in the issue; and we don’t have that here. In Finland, the State does not tolerate the idea that people can become ill merely by engaging in production, or the idea that work makes you sick. Work dignifies workers when it doesn’t make them sick. This confirms our conviction that here in Brazil the State needs to act in some way to change things, and I think that after this meeting we’re going to step up our campaign against occupational illnesses in meatpacking plants.


We also decided to publish a technical book dealing with this issue. It’ll be written by doctors and researchers, because this is something we need, as we’re often asked to back our statements with technical data, and we have none available. This publication, coordinated by Dr. Roberto Ruiz, will be a very valuable contribution to our struggle.


From São Paulo, Carlos Amorín


July 9, 2009








june | 24   


june | 25

               Photos: Gerardo Iglesias y Beatriz Sosa




Volver a Portada


  UITA - Secretaría Regional Latinoamericana - Montevideo - Uruguay

Wilson Ferreira Aldunate 1229 / 201 - Tel. (598 2) 900 7473 -  902 1048 -  Fax 903 0905