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Overexploitation of workers generates protest in Belo Monte

Nearly 300 workers stopped working in Santo Antonio where barracks are being built for the workers of the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant. The strike started on Friday November, 11 and continued on Saturday. Workers hired as guards, masons and carpenters, coming from several states refused the deviation function. The standoff began Friday when a truck full of cement arrived. The company wanted to force them to download it, they refused.

In addition to the deviation of functions, the workers are upset by severall mechanisms of overexploitation. A worker, who declined to identified himself for fear of persecution, said that in Jirau on the Madeira River, the basket was 170 reais, in Belo Monte, only 70 reais. And with only one woking day missing workers receiveas punishment a 25% cut in the value of the food basket and had to work on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Workers also complain that they are not receiving transport-hours, an equivalent of 3 hours daily from the city of Altamira to the construction site.

Workers are also having problems with the payment of overtime. One worker said he has not received 400 reais. “The pay for a professional  is very low, around 4.20 reais per hour, and overtime make much difference at the end of the month,” said one worker. They fear that, faced with both neglect and exploitation, the company will not guarantee the conditions for them to go home at the end of the year. Some live too far away and need to travel by air.

The government has used the discourse that Belo Monte is a model, and the abuses that occurred in San Antonio, Jirau and Estreito would not occur in Belo Monte. However, besides the super exploitation of workers, the Northern Energy company lie so blatant to the affected population. No one has reliable information about what their future will be when the dam starts functioning.

The Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB) is in solidarity with the workers, believing that they, as well as the populations threatened by Belo Monte, are highly impacted by this criminal project .