US Department of Labor announces $5M cooperative agreement to promote worker voice, labor rights in Brazil, Paraguay
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of a $5 million cooperative agreement to the International Labor Organization to strengthen the capacity of worker and civil society organizations in Brazil and Paraguay to increase worker voice and representation and address abusive labor practices, including forced labor and child labor.
The project will focus on cattle-raising areas in the two countries where evidence of abuses exists. It aligns with the department’s continued effort to reduce and prevent forced labor and child labor in global supply chains. Administered by the Bureau of International Labor Affairs, the project will seek to address these issues in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil, and in the Department of Boquerón in the Paraguayan Chaco region. The project will help worker and civil society organizations to better identify labor violations and advocate for workers. It will also provide services to address labor violations for workers and their families and seek greater engagement with the private sector to advocate for better working conditions.
In Brazil’s and Paraguay’s cattle-raising sectors, frequent reports exist of coercive recruitment and employment practices targeting rural, indigenous and other vulnerable populations. These practices include false promises of good work and living conditions, and employers often pay wages in advance to trap workers into debt bondage. Workers on small- and medium-sized cattle farms that supply larger international cattle production operations often fall victim. As cattle production in the two countries has expanded to meet global demand, the threat and levels of forced labor and labor exploitation has also grown.