Background on Brazil’s economy

…and the labour market
Historically, employers in Brazil have run things in highly authoritarian and paternalistic ways. As industrialisation expanded in the 1950s and 1960s they began changing the way work is designed, narrowing task definitions and lowering skill requirements. That made it easy to substitute workers, promoted high labour turnover and made working lives more precarious.

Today, as firms must gratify financial markets and shareholders, they demand higher output and lowered costs. Their loyalty to employees and communities may be reduced to the minimum, but firms nevertheless face imperatives to lower turnover of workers. Especially in large enterprises and the public sector, employers are trying to re-engineer labour processes through outsourcing of tasks that were once internal, implying increased resort to short-term (precarious) contracts, and rising competitive pressures. New incentive and supervision systems exchange some improvements in workplace conditions for greater worker loyalty to the firm, usually coupled with tighter supervision and individual rather than collective responsibilities.

Combined with an outwardly-oriented macroeconomic policy and precarity in labour markets, employers’ re-engineering of work processes reinforces the following problems:

  • high levels of stress, substance abuse, accidents and illness, of which stress related disorders and repetitive strain injuries/work-related musculoskeletal disorders form a large and increasing category, at significant cost to workers;
  • “atomisation” of working life, competition among co-workers, and increased feelings of isolation and powerlessness;
  • vulnerability to bullying by supervisors;
  • denial of respect, including denial of respect for own knowledge and skills;
  • material consumption (needs created under a daily bombardment of images on television) as more than ever the basis for self-realisation and self-esteem.

Vida Viva

Education & exchange in Germany

What is Vida Viva about?

Who is involved in Vida Viva?

What have we done?

What can you do?

Do you want to read more?


Vida Viva in Brazil

Background on Brazil’s economy

…and the labour market

Background on stress, work and illness
…and gender
…in Brazil

Background on Brazil’s labour movement
… and industrial relations
… unions and health

Conclusion: unions, work and health

Vida Viva in Mozambique

Vida Viva in Germany


Expo - chemical worker

Choclate factory

Expo-agro workers

Leaflet December 2006

Leaflet January 2007

Leaflet February 2007

Introduction magazine
of Vida Viva

Brochure on work quality

Health & safety guide

Mapping guide English