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Vol. 76/No. 20      May 21, 2012

Brazilian construction workers
fight for better wages, conditions
On May 4, 7,000 workers ended a two-week strike at the massive Belo Monte dam construction project for higher wages and more time off to visit their families after a labor court ruled the workers’ action illegal. Belo Monte will be Brazil’s biggest dam, one of dozens of power generating projects across the country.

At the end of April, 17,000 workers ended a 26-day strike after winning higher wages at the Jirau dam in Jaci Paraná. The government sent in hundreds of special forces troops to quell unrest after the strike.

Tens of thousands of workers in Brazil have struck against dam and other major construction sites across the country. Often housed in remote areas, one of the workers’ key demands has been more time off to visit relatives in their home villages.

Starting wages at Jirau are about $525 a month, while the cost of living roughly equals that in the U.S.

“The large concentration of workers at enormous construction sites scattered across the country seems to be fomenting worker unity and a more combative stance in search of improved wages and conditions,” said IPS press service.

Brazil is moving rapidly to meet soaring demand for electricity, which is predicted to surge 56 percent by 2021.
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‘Anti-terror’ laws target workers in Pakistan  
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