Brazilians stage protest rallies against legislation to allow companies to outsource jobs

SAO PAULO – Thousands of workers staged rallies in 12 cities across Brazil on Tuesday to protest a proposed law that would allow companies to outsource their labour force.

The biggest rally occurred in the federal capital of Brasilia, where some 3,000 demonstrators gathered in front of Congress hours before lawmakers were expected to vote on the measure.

Except for a brief clash between police and demonstrators in Brasilia, the rallies across Brazil were peaceful. Most drew less than 500 people. In Sao Paulo, Brazil’s financial and industrial nerve centre, less than 1,000 people took part.

The rallies were organized by the Central Workers Union, Brazil’s largest labour union umbrella organization. It fears the legislation could lead to dismissals and the hiring of outsourced workers at lower wages.

Besides voicing opposition to the proposed law, the rallies were also called to show support for state-run oil company Petrobras, which is at the centre of what federal prosecutors call the biggest corruption scheme ever uncovered in Brazil.

Investigators say the nation’s biggest construction and engineering firms paid at least $800 million in bribes and other funds to Petrobras executives and politicians in exchange for inflated contracts with the oil firm. Some of the money was allegedly funneled into the campaign coffers of the Workers’ Party and its allies.