Tense situation in Morro Agudo

The Military Police intensifies actions, arresting and torturing workers


The Ministry of Labor summons Santa Elisa/Vale to negotiate


This Thursday morning started out tense in Morro Agudo, where hundreds of rural workers paralyzed sugarcane cutting activities at the Santa Elisa/Vale Group’s MB factory. Zaqueu Aguiar, of the Federation of Rural Laborers of the State of São Paulo (FERAESP), reported that "The military police arrested several workers, and at least three of the workers were brutally beaten!"


The workers tortured by soldiers of the Military Police have been identified as Fernando Pereira da Silva, Mário Zon Vieira da Silva and Fabiano Rodrigues dos Santos. Aguiar also said that they "had cuts on their bodies, showed signs of having received a beating and were very shaken up." The workers were taken to a vacant lot where the police kicked them, hit them and threaten to kill them. This morning they will receive medical treatment and will undergo a body of evidence examination.

There is a great deal of pressure coming from police forces, which are armed for combat, as if we were at war!

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"There is a great deal pressure coming from police forces, which are armed for combat, as if we were at war!" According to Aguiar, "this pressure is due to the fact that the Colômbia and MB da Santa Elisa Vale units have already run out of sugarcane to process, but instead of negotiating, they’ve opted for this method of pressuring, through fear and torture.” Aguiar says that the company uses methods that are not in line with the times, and he highlights that it is the only company that maintains the worst and most backward labor relations.


Company/workers meeting at the Labor Ministry


The unionist informed that this Thursday, at 3 p.m., a meeting will be held at the Labor Ministry in Ribeirão Preto between representatives of the workers and the Santa Elisa/Vale Group, upon request of FERAESP, in view that the company refuses to enter into amicable negotiations. This meeting will consider the strike and the motives that led to a work stoppage.


The precarious situation of migrant workers


A study conducted by the union reveals an alarming reality, with degrading living conditions for rural workers in Santa Elisa/Vale, in particular those employed by the company’s Colômbia unit. These migrant workers are brought to the site with their families (wives and children) and forced to live in wretched conditions. "We saw women and children sleeping on the ground, in inadequate conditions, and the result of this is that they get sick, some of them are poorly fed, because they earn too little and can’t buy healthy food or enough to eat," Aguiar said.


The housing conditions are appalling, even though the workers pay a very steep rent and, in some cases, they even pay very high prices for groceries in the market. “What we were able to determine is that the owners of the tenements, or rented rooms, are the employers themselves, or relatives of the employers. Another situation that we discovered is that, even with the deplorably low wages they earn, Santa Elisa/Vale forces workers to open an account with Banco Bradesco – and not just a salary account, but a regular current account, charging them all the fees they can.


It’s a well-known fact that Banco Bradesco is one of the main shareholders of the Santa Elisa/Vale Group. That situation will be reported to the competent bodies, Aguiar assures. His experience in supporting conflicts leads him to forecast "a recurrence of the 1986 Guariba conflicts, when the obstinacy of the companies and the cruelty of the Military Police generated a violent and vicious conflict!"


Alcimir Carmo


august 14, 2008





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