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22 Aug 2015

Bruce Douglas, The Guardian (UK)

Brazil: Mcdonald’s faces accusations of poor labour conditions; includes company comments

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“McDonald's faces global scrutiny at Brazilian senate's human rights hearing-Workers, trade unionists and politicians from five continents testify to Brazilian senate over allegations of tax evasion and unfair competition”, 20 August 2015

The McDonald’s business model came under unprecedented global scrutiny in a hearing of the Brazilian senate’s human rights committee...[on 20 August 2015]…Workers, trade unionists and politicians from five continents testified in Brasília, over low pay and poor working conditions at the fast-food giant. McDonald’s is currently battling lawsuits in the US and Latin America, as well as a European Commission investigation…The senate hearing marked the culmination of a week of action that began last Friday, when Brazil’s General Workers’ Union filed a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office calling for a civil inquiry into allegations of tax evasion, unfair competition and the violation of franchise laws by McDonald’s and its Latin American franchisee, Arcos Dourados…On Monday, McDonald’s workers held talks with three Brazilian government ministers over work practices in the fast-food industry. The following day, protesters succeeded in blocking part of Avenida Paulista...The company has been under pressure in Brazil since February, when the country’s three largest trade unions filed a lawsuit against McDonald’s and Arcos Dourados,accusing it of “social dumping” – widespread and systematic labour abuses…Leonardo Mendoça, a prosecutor from Brazil’s labour ministry, announced the formation of a new taskforce to investigate McDonald’s working practices…“McDonald’s is one of the biggest employers in Brazil, but it also has one of the worst records on workers rights,” Moacyr Roberto Tesch Auersvald, from the Nova Central trade union, said…Arcos Dourados said that its more than 40,000 employees were represented by more than 80 trade unions and that it complied with all Brazilian labour laws…Paulo Paim, the senator from the ruling Workers party (PT) who organised the hearing, said …“Trade unions in Brazil took it upon themselves to bring their concerns to the human rights committee,” he said. “This gave other countries the same idea, but perhaps they do not have this same route [of a senate hearing] available to them.”