The Public Ministry of Labor in Rio Grande do Sul (MPT-RS) held a telepresence hearing, this Tuesday (28), with the legal representatives of businessman Pedro Augusto de Oliveira Santana, owner of Fênix Serviços de Apoio Administrativo. The company was responsible for hiring the 207 workers rescued from a situation similar to slavery in the grape harvest, in an operation carried out in Bento Gonçalves, in Serra Gaúcha, last week.
During the hearing, which was attended by attorneys from the Special Group for Finalistic Action (GEAF), a special task force created to act in the Bento Gonçalves case, it was proposed that the company pay individual moral damages to employees. This payment must not prevent workers from filing claims themselves. The proposed amount is around R$ 600,000, in addition to the R$ 1 million in severance pay already set for the weekend.
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The MPT also demanded the full presentation of proof of payment of the severance pay to the rescued and presented a proposal for a Term of Adjustment of Conduct additive to the emergency TAC signed over the weekend. The TAC proposal contains obligations regarding the recruitment of workers and accommodation. The MPT also demanded payment of a fine by the company for violating the terms of a previous TAC signed with the MPT in 2017.
Throughout Monday (27), according to the MPT, the service provider made most of the payments to rescued workers. By agreement expressed in the emergency TAC signed on Friday, the company paid each of the workers R$ 500.00 in cash, in addition to the return trip of 194 of the rescued workers to Bahia, in four chartered buses.
The company has until midday this Thursday (3) to present proof of the last payments of severance pay. He also has until the new hearing scheduled for the same day, at 2 pm, to comment on the terms of the agreement.
MPT-RS meets with wineries
On the afternoon of this Wednesday (1st), at 2 pm, it will be the turn of the MPT-RS to listen to the three wineries that take the contractor’s service: Aurora, Garibaldi and Salton. The objective is to report the situation of the case, present what was found in the investigations, request information about the contracts.
According to the entity, issues related to the responsibility of the borrowing companies as part of the wine production chain will be discussed, when the company’s representatives will be heard. The hearing will also be by teleconference, with the participation of other members of the task force.
The MPT was also invited to participate, on Wednesday morning, in the ordinary meeting of the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly, which will discuss the convening of a public hearing to discuss the issue in the gaucho parliament, proposed by deputy Luciana Genro (PSOL) . Attorney Ana Lúcia Stumpf González, coordinator of the Caxias do Sul unit and one of the members of the MPT-RS acting in the case of Bento Gonçalves, will represent the entity at the meeting.
Wineries are suspended from the export agency
After the case of slave labor, the Aurora, Garibaldi and Salton wineries were suspended from the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (ApexBrasil). The service linked to the Ministry of Development, Industry, Commerce and Services (Mdic) promotes Brazilian products abroad.
In a note, the organization states that it repudiates acts of violation of human and labor rights. It informs that “it suspended the participation of the three companies in any initiatives supported by the agency, such as international fairs, trade missions and promotional events, until the investigations of the competent authorities are concluded”.
Last week, a joint operation between the Federal Highway Police, the Ministry of Labor and Employment (MTE) and MPT-RS rescued more than 200 people housed in improper conditions at a guesthouse in Bento Gonçalves. According to denunciations made by a group of six workers who had managed to escape and report the case, the place was housing for a work force attracted to the grape harvest.
At the time of hiring, the workers were promised that they would pay for food, lodging and transportation, but, arriving in Rio Grande do Sul, the workers had to pay for their accommodation, already starting out in debt. The accommodation was also in poor condition and those rescued, the vast majority from Bahia, reported threats and intimidation.
The ages of the 207 rescued ranged between 18 and 57 years old. On Friday night, 194 of them were loaded onto buses bound for Bahia.
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Source: BdF Rio Grande do Sul
Editing: Marcelo Ferreira
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