Marinalva: Mobile Squad Labour Inspector

Marinalva is a labour inspector, part of the Brazilian government team called the “mobile squad”. They inspect farms in remote parts of the country, rescuing workers from forced labour as ILO TV explains.

Date issued: 12 January 2007 | Size/duration: 00:02:03 (3.4 MB)

At her home in north-eastern Brazil, Marinalva Cardoso Dantas is a single mother with a family to support.

At work she is a labour inspector travelling to the most difficult and remote areas of Brazil to rescue workers from forced labour. Last year government mobile squads like this one freed over 5000 labourers.

Marinalva Cardoso Dantas, Flying squad labour inspector

It’s very dangerous, especially on the roads to these farms. It’s often the most dangerous part of the job.

Marinalva and her team are driving deep into the jungle in the state of Para to inspect a cattle farm. Federal police accompany them for protection.

When they arrive the farmer is nowhere to be found. Workers appear telling similar stories: they haven’t been paid for their work clearing the forest. They are in debt to the farmer, living conditions are terrible and armed guards prevent them from escaping.

Worker

Last night we talked until midnight about our situation. We were talking about you. It’s about time that the Ministry of Labour came here to help us, because this is slavery, you know, working in such a desert.

The team confiscates equipment and gathers evidence that will be used to prosecute the farmer.

Marinalva Cardoso Dantas

We clearly found signs of forced labour and intimidation. Although some workers said they could leave the farm, others said the managers would bring them back if they had not finished the job.

The Brazilian government is working with the International Labour Organization to eliminate forced labour for thousands of workers throughout the country.

For these newly rescued workers a photo and a thumbprint are part of their new identity papers, their passport to freedom.