Conclusion: unions, work and health

The industrial restructuring and the introduction of ‘new management’ techniques in the ‘90s in Brazil connected the lack of bargaining power of unions, the growing precarity and stress in workers’ lives and the rapid growth of stress-related illnesses.

First, these ‘new management’ techniques use the knowledge of workers in order to increase productivity and the individual workload. Therefore they allocate more importance to the workers to re-shape their workplace, but without giving them the tools and organisational instruments to defend and represent their interests collectively. As there is little information available to the workers, it is hard or often impossible to recognise the risks and make the connection between RSI and MSD and their job.

Second, some trade union organisations have a certain technical competence on health issues based on scientific biological or chemical risk assessment. The new management techniques and new disorders however demand a quite different approach as the workers themselves and specific workers’ knowledge are directly incorporated in the restructuring processes. External assessment by (union) experts is therefore more and more confronted with its limits.

The tightening labour markets and the re-design of work are reproducing more precarity and stress in people’s working lives, putting their health and social anchoring at further risk and therefore putting the issue of health and safety in the centre of the constitution of industrial relations. Unions are thus challenged to address the issue of new forms of work organisation and power on the shop floor.

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