May 17, 2022

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Unemployment, income cuts, harassment: the routine of domestic workers in precarious work

Workers in the category continued to work during the pandemic, were exposed to the Covid virus, and faced a wave of unemployment



247 – A survey released at the end of December by cleaning brand Veja with Plano CDE indicates that 27% of Brazilian domestic workers have been laid off during the novel coronavirus pandemic, with 40% of the category continuing to work. For these, social isolation did not exist, revealing the failure of Brazil’s “stay at home” policy.

Only 16% were able to isolate themselves at home and still get paid – a measure encouraged by the National Federation of Domestic Workers (Vinatrade) campaign.

Covid-19 in Brazil reached Brazil through the richest sectors of the population, but it quickly spread to the poorest, and they were the main affected. One case gained notoriety. In 2020, a maid was infected by her boss in Rio de Janeiro, and was recorded as the first fatal victim of the virus.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), in its ongoing national household sample survey (Pnad), unemployment, an increase in informality and a loss of income have affected the category most severely in the two years of the pandemic.

About 6.4 million Brazilians (92% women and 65% black) worked in domestic services in Brazil in 2019. In 2020, the contracted workforce was reduced to 4.9 million, after 1.5 million jobs. layoffs With the economic recovery in 2021, the number of domestic workers in Brazil has reached 5.5 million, of whom 4.1 million are without a formal contract.

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It should be noted that the average income of registered and informal workers decreased from R$979 in the August-October 2020 quarter to R$929 in the same quarter of 2021. In São Paulo, the minimum category is R$1,296.32 per month , for 44 hours a week. That is, in addition to unemployment and precariousness, the domestic woman continues to face a decline in income, while inflation is increasing (more than 10% in the accumulation in 2021).

“Reports of bullying, sexual harassment, and exposure to a “trust test” (where an employer films an employee without permission or leaves cash in plain sight to test her honesty, for example) have also become more common complaints during the pandemic. Research,” a report by Folha DS Paulo.

This situation goes in the opposite direction of what was promoted by the Labor Party governments, prior to the 2016 coup. By creating eSocial, Dilma included the group of millions of domestic workers in the list of government social benefits like never before.

The coup against Dilma greatly increased poverty

A survey by the consulting firm Tendências indicates that the number of Brazilian families in categories D and E increased from 48.7% to 51% between 2012 and 2022.. However, the situation rose after the coup that overthrew elected President Dilma Rousseff in 2016. The following year, this indicator rose to 50.8% and reached 51% earlier this year.

According to G1, the survey shows, in absolute numbers, that the number of families at the base of the social pyramid at the beginning of this year amounted to 37.7 million. According to the Tendências survey, classes D and E consist of families with a monthly income of R$2,800.

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According to the report, the situation worsened last year due to the pandemic, and the percentage of families in categories (D) and (E) reached 51.6%. The improvement recorded at the beginning of this year is linked to a slight improvement in the labor market. Despite this, 30.2 million workers live on one minimum wage.

The expectation is that the situation will not reverse quickly. The financial market forecast for this year, according to the Central Bank Bulletin Center, is that the Brazilian economy will grow by only 0.29%. In 2023, forecasts are that GDP will grow by 1.75% and 2% in the next two years.

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