FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 13, 2011
Press Release: Major protests and imminent strike at Brazilian foreign missions in 9 cities tomorrow
Nationwide strike would keep American citizens from obtaining visas and consequently entering
, the start of a diplomatic crisis. Brazil
Staff of Brazilian diplomatic missions in the
will begin a protest tomorrow, leading to a strike. The strike would affect business and leisure travelers as well as major companies with close ties with United States . Brazil
The movement to close Brazilian missions in the
United States and eventually around the world will also impact the country’s ability to process the increasing number of visa requests from travelers looking to for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. Brazil
WHAT: Employees of Brazilian foreign missions will protest for labor rights.
WHEN: Protests will begin tomorrow July 14, 2011; the day of strike and shutdown, to be announced (TBA).
WHERE: Consulate-General of
Brazil in Atlanta
Brazil in Boston
Brazil in Hartford
Brazil in Houston
Brazil in Los Angeles
Brazil in Miami
Brazil in San Francisco
Brazil in New York
Brazil in D.C Washington
WHO: Brazilian consulate agents in the
find themselves in an unprecedented “legal limbo” due to complex labor laws pertaining to the profession. It is unclear which labor laws should be enforced, or which framework (Brazilian or American) is used by Brazilian diplomatic missions. Currently “the rule of convenience” is being followed. Whichever set of rules is most beneficial to the employer, those are the ones imposed. The lack of understanding on both sides has left room for innumerous abuses at Brazilian diplomatic offices nationwide. United States
Employee grievances include the lack of basic employment rights and privileges such as: workers compensation, unemployment insurance, collective bargaining rights, social security, and overtime pay. In addition, consulate agents are required to work unpaid weekends, while some are given the task of monitoring the consulate’s 24 hour emergency hotline without pay.
In an effort to seek protection from wrongful employment practices, over 600 employees of Brazilian diplomatic posts from around the world – including 10 posts, 365 employees in the Unites States - have signed a petition addressed to
’s President Dilma Rousseff asking for better working conditions and requesting that officials protect the rights of locally hired staff. Brazil
Local employees at the Brazilian Diplomatic Mission have begun a peaceful protest entitled 'Operation Wake-Up Call'. Reaching out to more than 400 personnel in 27 Brazilian Missionary Posts in 10 countries, this number keeps growing.
“Operation Wake-Up Call” has been planned in phases; we’ve sent correspondence to Brazilian President Mrs. Dilma Roussef on May 5th, 2011. Initially the letter has been signed by 204 local employees in the USA, the largest number in history. A copy of the letter can be found separately. Days passed and similar letters have been sent by Brazilian Missionary Posts in the UK and Germany, while others are being prepared.
In 1995, Decreto 1.570 (a local law) was in effect, giving labor jurisdiction to the countries where the posts were located. These labor rules are not the same as those in the Brazilian constitution. While the theory seemed fine, practice has changed a lot. Upper management at the Brazilian Diplomatic Mission puts in action what is most convenient, oscillating between the local rules and the Brazilian laws. Local personnel are left in limbo with no protection.
A good example is the mandatory contribution to an equivalent Brazilian Social Security, INSS (Instituto Nacional de Seguridade Social) by all employees in the US who are not American citizens. We all contribute with the maximum deduction, but are only entitled to retirement pay, nothing else. The INSS has informed everyone that the benefit can be used, but the local laws don’t guarantee it.
Another example is the complete ignorance regarding the “13th month salary,” a common practice under Brazilian law. In the USA, the local employees have no rights to such a benefit, since salaries are paid on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The salary is calculated on a monthly basis so it is divided in 4 weeks. Since the year has 52 weeks and not 48, local employees will be missing a full month of pay. The management does not follow the local laws, nor the Brazilian ones.
There are many examples to be cited, all related to work laws and regulations. There are no clear rules or work agreements with transparent regulatory laws, indicating a foreign or Brazilian overrule. All cases are studied and solved on an individual basis; workers have no protection.
We are looking for our rights in labor laws, as we feel left out by our own country. We are under the impression that no one wants to set the rules on regulations in the Diplomatic Brazilian Missions.
We are hoping for the Brazilian government to listen to our appeal and reflect upon our situation. We also have the option to go on a 24-hour standoff, though it may not be necessary should the government respond to our request.
We do not intend to harm the routine in these 30 posts; our solemn intention is to open up a dialogue with our employer and solve the issue in question.
Operation wake up call - 600 members, :
- Brazilian Embassy in Washington
- UN Mission - in New York, OEA Mission - in Washington
- Consulate General of Brasil in New York, Washington, Boston, Hartford, Atlanta, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco.
- Brazilian Embassy in Paris
- Consulate General of Brazil in Paris
- Brazilian Embassy in London
- Consulate General of Brazil in London
- Brazilian Embassy in Berlim
- Consulate General of Brazil in Frankfurt and Munchen
- Brazilian Embassy in Bern
- Consulate General of Brazil in Geneva
- Brazilian Embassy in Dublin
- Consulate General of Brazil in Barcelona
- Brazilian Embassy in Ama - Jordan
- Consulate General of Brazil in Mexico
- Brazilian Embassy in Ottawa
- Consulate General of Brazil in Montreal
- Brazilian Financial Office in New York
- Brazilian Embassy in Rome