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The future under dispute

On the evening of 10 November at 8.30pm, all tv channels in Brazil were interrupted to broadcast an announcement by labour minister, Ronaldo Nogueira, who greeted the country’s 102 million workforce with the statement: “Good evening, workers of Brazil. Welcome to the future!”

Nogueira was making reference to the enactment of the country’s controversial labour reform bill, which came into force on the following day and aims to modernise the country’s long-established and deeply entrenched labour laws.

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The reform was indeed developed under a sensitive political environment, marked by “deep antagonism and polarised arguments,” according to José Carlos Wahle, partner at Veirano Advogados. There have already been some conflicting court decisions issued by the courts since the reform came into force for example; one sticking to the old labour code rules in favour of the employee, and the other using the new regulations in favour of the employer, which have already signal inconsistencies in the application of the new laws. “The problem will only be properly addressed the day there is a social pact among employers, workers, unions, labour courts and labour prosecutors,” he says, adding: “while an overwhelming sense of multilateral distrust prevails in society that not even a divine decree will sort it out, one that is good about the reform is that it provides some tools which could be used to build a more dynamic relationship between employers and employees in Brazil.”


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