Workers and minors are rescued from rice fields in RS
A new case of rescue of workers, and this time also of minors, in conditions analogous to slavery, was recorded in Rio Grande do Sul. A joint operation by the Federal Police (PF), the Public Ministry of Labor and the Regional Labor Office this Friday (10th) took place on the border with Argentina, in Uruguaiana, with the employer being caught in the act and still arrested, informed the PF.
At the border, 56 workers, all men and among them 10 were teenagers between 14 and 17 years old, were caught in precarious activities on two rice farms in the interior of the municipality, according to a note from the PF. It was the biggest rescue ever recorded in Uruguaiana, according to the police.
“They worked manually cutting red rice and applying pesticides, without protective equipment, and even walked strenuous days before arriving at the work front”, describes the PF.
The case reached the bodies after a complaint. Initially, it would be young people working without a formal contract. When going to the place to carry out the inspection, the teams came across teenagers and a situation similar to slavery, detailed the PF.
The group followed practices such as the application of pesticides and still went without food all day. Photo: PF/Disclosure
The workers were from the region, residents of Itaqui, São Borja, Alegrete and Uruguaiana. After the act, the group was taken to their homes.
“They manually cut the red rice with completely inappropriate instruments (many used only a domestic serrated knife), in addition to applying pesticides with their hands. In one of the properties, the poison was applied using the “slash” method, in which two workers apply the pesticide using a perforated metal bar connected to product cans – a type of activity that requires individual protection equipment”, details the operation record.
Workers also needed to walk 50 minutes in full sun to reach the job site, officials add.
Conditions worsened in terms of food. The food was taken by the employees and it was constantly spoiling. As a result, according to the PF, they ate nothing all day.
One more practice: in case of illness, the worker was left without remuneration.
The employer was arrested in flagrante delicto for reduction to a condition analogous to that of a slave, according to article 149 of the Penal Code. He was taken by the Federal Police to the city prison.
Among the measures is the transfer of unemployment insurance installments to workers. Employers will be notified to sign the work card and pay severance pay.
The MPT will seek compensation payments for individual and collective moral damages.