A joint operation between the Labor Inspection, the Labor Public Ministry, the Federal Public Ministry and the Federal Police resulted in the rescue of 212 workers in a situation of contemporary slavery on Friday (18).
They were housed in Itumbiara and Porteirão (GO) and Araporã (MG) and worked in the planting of sugar cane for a service provider that provided labor for four farms and a mill. This is the biggest rescue of the year, breaking the record of 207 “wine slaves” in Bento Gonçalves (RS).
“The rescue concluded this Friday is the largest carried out in the same operation this year”, said the tax auditor Maurício Krepsky, head of the Division of Inspection for the Eradication of Slave Labor (Detrae) of the Ministry of Labor and Employment.
Read too: Farm that supplies sugar cane Caravelas is caught with slave labor in SP
“The profile of victims of human trafficking for slave labor purposes is very similar to the 207 workers rescued in grape production in Rio Grande do Sul: northeastern, black and with little schooling”, he explains. In Bento Gonçalves, 93% were from Bahia. In this case, they were from Piauí, Maranhão and Rio Grande do Norte.
With these 212 rescued, the cumulative total from January 1st to March 17th reached 893 workers in 2023. Since 2008, there have not been so many cases in the first three months of a year. That year, there were 1,456 workers in the first quarter, according to ministry data.
“Who had money, bought mattress”
Enlisted in their home states by “gatos” (labor contractors) and clandestinely transported to work in sugarcane production in Goiás, the workers were subjected to degrading conditions, according to inspection.
“Whoever had a little money, bought a mattress. Those who didn’t, slept on the floor, on top of cloth or cardboard”, explained to the UOL website the tax auditor Roberto Mendes, coordinator of the operation.
“As the company did not provide food, they ate what they had, often just rice and sausage. They were in extremely precarious shacks, without ventilation, moldy, with dirty walls, leaks, no shower. The outsourced company sold the tools to the workers, such as hoes, which, by law, should be provided free of charge,” said Mendes.
According to him, there were no sanitary facilities on the work fronts, nor individual protection equipment and pesticides were applied in areas where people were working.
What those involved say
The outsourced service provider SS Nascimento Serviços e Transporte and five contractors – four sugarcane farms and the Edéia (GO) unit of the BP Bunge Bionergia plant – assumed responsibility and split up to pay the workers.
SS Nascimento Serviços e Transporte made itself available to collaborate with the investigations and guarantee the workers’ rights, emphasizing that all facts will be clarified during the course of the processes. BP Bunge Bioenergia, on the other hand, stated that it acted quickly to guarantee social and human priorities, collaborating with the authorities and investigating responsibilities, in addition to emphasizing that it does not condone situations of degrading work.
Editing: Thales Schmidt
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