By Brendan Oliver Bergh
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BRASILA, Brazil – Ronald McDonald’s has another fire to put out, and this one is not related to its flame broiled burgers. In Brazil new information is being released that would implicate labor violations imposed against young workers in order to keep the costs of running a fast food franchise down.
Brazil has the second most McDonalds of any country in the Western hemisphere after the United States, and with that comes its share of scandals. While not rocked by the horse meat scandal that has hit the United States, here McDonald’s young workers are coming forth complaining about slave-like working conditions that are being imposed upon them. Conditions such as sexual harassment, lack of minimum worker comfort, and work hours above the weekly maximum – which according to article 7 of the Federal Constitution on employee rights should not exceed 44 hours a week – are unfortunately far reaching. Beyond hourly violations furnishing workers with inadequate food are just some of the conditions many workers are forced to deal with in Brazil.
Last year, the Brazilian corporate office of McDonalds at Sao Paulo was facing 1790 cases for labor violations from claims concerning overtime violations, and minimum wage violations, and until recently has seemingly been able to get away them. The hiring of young workers for fast-food is everyday practice for many corporations, but in Sao Paulo the act has taken a slightly more predatory nature. McDonald’s in Brazil has taken to a habit of hiring teenagers with little to no job experience and no notice of their rights.
These recent labor violations have resurfaced thanks to a suit by a seventeen year old girl. She had been working at a Sao-Paulo McDonalds for 8 months without pay and has agreed to testify against her former employers.
Antonio Carlos Lacerda, a lawyer representing the young girl working for the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, believes this is one of many other similar situations. He believes “that when the investigation is concluded, they will prove that there is a systematic pattern of this kind of behavior through the entire McDonald’s system.”
These labor law violations are just some of the issues being discussed by the Inter-American Commission 0n Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights this month in Brazil. These issues crucial to Brazil – like slave labor and gender-based violence – are to be addressed to alter Brazil’s sometimes deplorable human rights violations.
For more information, please see:
Vice – McDonalds Is Violating Labor Laws In Brazil – 4 March 2013
Independent European Daily Express – Inter-American Human Rights System Reform Faces Deadline – 1 March 2013
The Drum – Horse Meat Scandal – McDonald’s Is Loving It – 7 February 2013
The Brazil Business – Brazilian Employment Law In A Nutshell – 15 May 2012
Lo De Alla – McDonald’s In Brazil: A Campaign To Cover Up Exploitation – 20 March 2011