Employers attempt to obstruct IT strike in São Paulo

Employers attempt to obstruct IT strike in São Paulo

Summary: Union representing tech companies wants to stop protests and contract termination freezes

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TOPICS: IT Employment, CXO
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São Paulo-based technology employers have attempted to obstruct the strike of sector professionals across the state for better pay and benefits.

According to workers union Sindpd, technology employers body Seprosp filed a preliminary injunction action to prevent contract termination freezes - by law, IT companies are not allowed to end contracts during a strike, or deduct any pay from any employer involved in the action.

In Brazil, workers unions get involved in the process that follows the termination of an employment contract, which is not considered legal and complete until the union checks that salaries and proportional benefits have been paid before the worker moves on. In the IT workers union case, terminations will not be "signed off" unless they are a result of voluntary programs or occurred before the strike.

"[The incentive to lay off striking employees] is irresponsible and illegal, because attempts to obstruct the right to strike circumvents Brazilian and international legislation," says Antonio Neto, director at Sindpd, the workers union.

The freeze provision exists to exclude the possibility of employers sacking staff because they have gone on strike, says Sindpd. The IT bosses' request, however, was denied by the local labour court, as was a separate motion intended to prevent protests or the distribution of strike propaganda outside the companies where staff members have gone on strike.

Seprosp, the IT employers association, was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

The state of São Paulo concentrates the largest chunk of technology companies and workers in Brazil. Since the strike of São Paulo techies commenced in February, the Ministry of Labor has requested that temporary suspension of the action until an upcoming ruling establishes a common ground between staff and employers.

The São Paulo workers want a 8.8 percent pay rise, plus daily meal allowances of R$16 ($6,70) and profit sharing plans for any IT company with more than 10 staff and profit sharing plans for all IT companies. The body representing the employers has offered a 6.2 percent pay rise, daily meal subsidies of R$14 ($5,80) for companies that employ more than 50 staff and profit sharing plans for companies with more than 30 employees.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO

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19 comments
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  • unions are a plague

    encouraged by the likes of Obama and his bums.
    LlNUX Geek
    • What do you propose to do about them?

      People bash unions a lot, but I don't see a lot of proposals to change the system.
      John L. Ries
      • by being an adult not a toddler

        how can a grown a** adult be incapable of negotiating their own pay?

        Put money in your own pocket not some corrupt union bosses pocket.
        everss02
        • Look at american teacher unions

          In most cities half the kids drop out and the kids that remain 50% have the reading and math skills of an 8 year old at age 18.

          Yet these teachers make $60-75k on average and threaten strikes every few years for more pay.
          everss02
          • Public Sector

            At least when unions strike a business in the private sector, they are going for the wallet of the company they are striking.

            When teachers strike, they are going for the wallets of the taxpayers, who are already soaked and who most likely make less money than the people who are attempting to soak them more.

            The percentage of people unionized in the private sector has been falling for decades, and yet the percentage of people unionized in the public sector is still going strong. Soaking neighbors, friends and family for yet more money. Holding the public and their students hostage. Surely this was not what organized labor originally intended.
            sissy sue
        • So...

          ...you're opposed to collective bargaining on principle. Should it be illegal? If so, what should the law be?
          John L. Ries
          • why does there have to a law?

            If you want to work someplace work there, if you don't then don't. If you have skills you will do fine and be in demand.

            Why is it illegal to work and not be in a union ok? neither are ok.
            everss02
          • So all you're really after...

            ...is a right to work law. You're not opposed to unions or collective bargaining per se, only to closed and union shops.

            Am I correct?
            John L. Ries
          • yeah

            who is anyone to tell a private biz owner who or how to hire workers? if they want to have all union workers who cares, all non-union who cares, as long as there is a choice.

            public unions where government has a monopoly is another story.
            everss02
          • So, in your opinion...

            Collective bargaining should be strictly between the employer and his employees with no governmental involvement other than arbitrating contract disputes? That's pretty much the way things were in the US between 1890 and 1930. We could go back to that with the understanding that there was a fair amount of labor-related violence on both sides during that period, so we'd have to think about how to prevent it.

            Should governments have the authority to order striking employees back to work (ala Taft-Hartley) if they think them injurious to the public interest? And should strikes or boycotts be treated as illegal restraints of trade as they were before the Clayton Antitrust Act?
            John L. Ries
          • What I'm trying to do here....

            ...is to get a conversation going about what laws, if any, there *should* be in regard to organized labor. How *should* the system work? You're unhappy with the current system in the US (but our author was discussing Brazil, which operates under a different set of laws). Fair enough, but if all people like you do is complain about the way things are instead of talking about the way you think things should be, then we don't get anywhere and we hear the same complaints year after year after decade after decade. Other people aren't necessarily going to like what you propose, but at least it can be discussed. And it may even be possible that out of discussions, something acceptable to a broader range of people on both sides of the issue can emerge.
            John L. Ries
      • Of course not, as any proposal

        loses votes for anyone in politics who tries to make it "a firing offense" to strike.

        Bottom line, for all their walk and talk, I've found union shops to be the least productive, and no more happy then someone working non union jobs.
        William.Farrel
        • If nobody tries...

          ...then nobody will find out. Interesting that even when there was a Republican President and Congress, no attempt was made to repeal the Wagner Act, to abolish collective bargaining for federal employees, or to ban union shops. Senate Democrats would probably have filibustered any of those moves, but a filibuster is extended debate, not a veto (eventually, they'll get tired).

          Point being that just because something does not appear to be politically feasible in the short term doesn't mean you shouldn't advocate it. It might not make a difference, but then again it might.
          John L. Ries
  • Shut down the whole branch.

    Simple.

    Let the company move their operations to Texas or Florida.
    GotThumbs
    • Interestingly enough...

      ...union organizing and collective bargaining are legal in right to work states (and its still illegal to fire people for organizing). Unions don't have as much leverage there, but they do exist and some shops are covered by union contracts (I worked for one when I was in college and I did join the union).
      John L. Ries
  • Interesting...

    I am an IT manager for a small (35 total PT/FT employees. All are union except management staff. What I have found is that the union protects the *hitty employees who are lazy and screws the good employees. This creates a bad work environment because the good employees get tired of picking up the slack and either quit or stop doing it. I have been on both sides of the fence. While unions sometimes do good in protecting the workforce from greedy bosses. I think more harm than good happens.
    MLHACK
  • Ask for the World

    It's interesting to me how employees from around the world see their employer. In this case the employer group is offering a good raise, daily meal allowances and profit sharing if you have 30 or more employees. It looks like a good deal to me, but I don't know how long it has been since they have had a raise. Of course coming from an American point of view I see these Union setups as stifling the growth if companies and their respective workforce, I assume they need a union for some reason, what it is I don't know. I am a big proponent of paid for performance and will not work in a Union shop.
    Neverhood
    • "A good raise" is relative

      Maybe 6.2% would be a good raise in the U.S., but in a country where inflation is 6.5% a year (which is just an average - it can be 20% for some items) and workers haven't had a raise in a couple of years, this doesn't even begin to repay the cumulative loss of purchasing power in that period. See, it's not even a real raise - it's just catching up with inflation, and actually not even enough for that.
      goyta
  • Why so many comments about unions and labor in the U.S.?

    In case you haven't noticed, this column is about technology in *Brazil* and talks about a strike of Brazilian IT professionals. The comments I've been reading also sound incredibly parochial and chauvinistic, as if what applied to the U.S. applied anywhere else as well.

    I've got news for you, guys: the world has different countries, with different histories, traditions, cultures, points of view and laws, including labor laws. Lots of things can happen to make it not so simple. Just for a start, unions in Brazil are organized around whole professions or categories of workers in all companies of a given city, region, or state, rather than around a single company or group of companies. They have legal standing as representatives of workers and many legal privileges, as Angélica's remark about them being required by law to inspect and approve the termination of work contracts should tell. They have their share of corruption and political manipulation like anywhere else, but virtually everybody in Brazil agrees that workers would be routinely abused in all ways and become little more than indentured servants if unions were not there to ensure a fair game, minimal pay and working conditions, and to counter the corporations' economic power.

    Economic liberalism and _laissez-faire_ also don't travel well to different places with different economic conditions and cultures, and most importantly, to places with an economy that's far from stable and settled. In fact, history shows that whenever this kind of mentality was applied to Brazilian economy (as in the 1990s), it was a disaster, with social exclusion and impoverishment of large masses of people.

    This doesn't mean that a strong and ubiquitous state is good either (it is not and it is a big problem is today's Brazil), but it does mean that the optimum point lies somewhere else along the line (a point that is not static and changes according to the economic realities of each moment), and that free-for-all is not necessarily good. Brazilian culture must also be taken into consideration, and that assigns the state and the unions different roles and expectations from those in the U.S. and other countries. What Brazilian people expect the government and the unions to provide, and consider their responsibility, is not the same as an American would.

    The mere fact that Brazil is a developing country (here with emphasis on the "in the process of developing" sense rather than on "not fully developed") implies that its economic and political structures are in constant evolution and change at a rapid pace, which should continue for decades to come. It would be completely unrealistic to expect formulas, practices and assumptions that work in the U.S. to automatically work in Brazil. As I have mentioned above, whenever this was tried, it was a disaster.
    goyta