350.3 Changes in the world of work and the process of flexibilization in Brazil: A case study

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 2:50 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Ricardo MULLER , Sociology and Political Science, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil
Lawrence PEREIRA , Sociology and Political Science, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianopolis, Brazil
The article discusses aspects of the changes taking place in the world of labour among Brazilian social relations – in particular the phenomena known as “flexibilization” and/or “deregulation” – and their connection with employment relations and existing legal safeguards.  It is based on a case study carried out between June 2007 and June 2009, in the Distribution Centre (DC) of the big corporation Lojas Renner (Renner Stores), located in Palhoça, in the state of Santa Catarina (SC), Brazil. For this purpose, ex-employees of the company were interviewed and we have also analysed legal proceedings relating to employment, in particular, a Public Civil Action started as a result of complaints made by employees and the local community about the working conditions of all sub-contracted employees. Our interest in this subject arose from the contradiction between, on the one hand, the constant court cases involving employment relations, and on the other, the various discourses in favour of the “flexibilization” of Brazilian labour legislation, working conditions and employment relations. On the whole, these discourses, found in social relations, are associated to modern forms of management which create new types of jobs. The discourse on flexibilization sees current labour legislation as an element which sustains a kind of backwardness. To what extent are measures relating to the flexibilization of labour rights' legislation necessary to maintain and expand the number of work places within the current market? Would these measures be solely in the interest of capital, putting at risk historical achievements of workers? Considering the contradictions within the political and judicial spheres of the State, would it be possible for the State to impose regulatory norms on employment relations or could they be freely negotiated? These are the issues guiding this research.