Alternative forms of working-class organization and the mobilization of informal-sector workers in Brazil in the era of neoliberalism

By:
Salvador A. M. Sandoval
Date:
  • Article Title: Alternative forms of working-class organization and the mobilization of informal-sector workers in Brazil in the era of neoliberalism
  • Title of Journal: International Labor and Working-Class History
  • Vol #: 72
  • Issue #: 1

Abstract:
This article analyses on the one hand the weakening of the trade union movement in Brazil, and on the other the emergence of new forms of popular organizing amongst informal workers. Three case studies are examined: The landless workers movement; Street vendors; and passenger-van owners operating informal bus services. The landless workers movement has organized people who have been unable to get access to farmland. It has used occupation of land as a strategy, but has also organized significant demonstrations against neoliberal policies and used the tactic of mass marches from agrarian settlements to urban centres. The street vendors in this case study are vendors who sell small electronic appliances; computer accessories; small tools; etc. They have organized around issues relating to access to public space, and have mainly used mass demonstrations and occasional riots as a tool. The vendors have been in a conflict with shop owners as well as shop employees, who are concerned by the competition. This has placed the vendors against members of a commercial workers’ union. Similarly, the informal bus service operators ended in a conflict of interest with the members of the bus drivers’ unions, who became worried for their jobs as a result of the increased competition. The informal bus operators organized around the issue of having a right to their business, but eventually ended fighting against the bus companies, bus drivers’ unions, and city authorities. The passenger-van owners used individual and collective resistance in the forms of riots and demonstrations.

Informal Economy Topic
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