Brazil: Concrete Strategies for the Inclusion of Workers with Disabilities

14 September 2017 15:07


The BWI has partnered with the labour NGO 'Citizen's Space' in order to organize a meeting to bottom-up trade union strategies for the inclusion of workers with disabilities. The idea was to disseminate the results of the recent International Labour Organization (ILO) survey on the trade unions’ actions to promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in the decent work agenda; developing and expanding trade union alliances to promote decent work for people with disabilities; to put into practice the results of the ACTRAV/LO meeting held in Geneva in May on the trade unions’ actions to promote decent work for people with disabilities.

The meeting was held in the city of São Paulo in order to bring together the activist NGO community and trade unionists. The number of pre-registrations and the high attendance numbers surprised organizers. More important was the diversity of participants. 123 people from 24 cities participated. 14 per cent indicated a physical, visual or intellectual disability at registration. Almost two thirds were from unions with the rest divided between government, employers, schools and NGOs.

The event was organized as one more step in the ongoing process of collective development of practical strategies. Previously, an important ILO study profiling inclusion practices in 50 different countries was translated into Portuguese, printed and given to the participants. The study was presented by BWI Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean Nilton Freitas. The inclusion of workers with disabilities in the formal labour market in Brazil was analyzed by the technician of the Inter-union Department of Statistics and Socioeconomic Studies (DIEESE) Pedro dos Santos Bezerra Neto.

All participants were given a copy of this study and two questions: What are the barriers to inclusion & What strategies work to break these barriers. Next, participants broke into discussion groups. Written answers to the two questions were collected by organizers at the end of the event. These responses were then analyzed collectively at a follow-up meeting where five thematic areas became clear; awareness, education, accessibility, health & safety at work, and collective agreements. These themes are being included in an endorsement letter that can be used as an educational and organizing tool in the trade union movement.