Forced Labour in Brazil

Forced labour is on the rise worldwide and is taking new and insidious forms, according to a new report from the International Labour Organization. But some governments along with church and civil groups are attacking this problem head on with encouraging results as we see in this report from ILO TV News.

Date issued: 13 September 2001 | Size/duration: 00:02:41 (2.65 MB)

Forced labour is on the rise worldwide and is taking new and insidious forms, according to a new report from the International Labour Organization. But some governments along with church and civil groups are attacking this problem head on with encouraging results as we see in this report from ILO TV News.

Terrible road conditions are just a warning of the horrendous working and living conditions this rescue unit from the Brazilian Labour Ministry will soon uncover. This amateur video shows the discovery of modern day slaves by government labour inspectors. Hidden in a makeshift camp in a remote region of the country, the workers face a brutal and organized network of contractors or middlemen, who will use any means to keep the workers from escaping. They were brought here to clear away forest land for development. Officials of the rescue unit tell the workers they are free to go. The labour inspectors examine the evidence of an endless cycle of debt bondage where workers sign away their earnings and freedom with a thumb print. Marinalva has seen it all.

Marinalva Cardoso

Conditions of work are inhuman. They are conditions that few animals could stand, let alone a human being.

Brasilia is the nerve center of the Labour Ministry's special mobile unit. The movements of regional teams are coordinated here, while a hotline tips them off to possible targets to investigate. Nearly 2000 workers have been freed. The political will to attack the problem of forced labour and raise public awareness of the problem is clear through a full-fledged media campaign as Claudio Secchin explains.

Claudio Secchin

Our job is to raise the consciousness of society, both at the level of the individual worker as well as the people and institutions who are supposed to enforce the law.

A new report on forced labour by the ILO highlights the actions taken by the Brazilian government, civil and church groups to acknowledge and combat forced labour. In 1996, an ILO television crew documented the work of the Pastoral Land Commission to rescue workers from the charcoal plants of Matto Grosso. The international uproar that followed led to the creation of Brazil's Special Mobile Unit. Awareness is key to action, according to Anne Trebilcock of the ILO.

Anne Trebilcock, ILO expert on Forced Labour

Forced labour is not a relic of the past. It is with us in various forms around the globe and action must be taken to eliminate it.

Igniting political will and raising public awareness to end forced labour for these and other workers worldwide.