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Tax action rescues 22 immigrant workers in sewing workshop in São Paulo


Group was found in building on the outskirts of the capital in degrading conditions fulfilling exhaustive days

Founded in a residential building in the Penha neighborhood of São Paulo, a group of 22 immigrants from Peru and Bolivia was rescued from a slave-like condition by the supervisory team of the Regional Labor Superintendency of the São Paulo Ministry of Economy. They worked without a formal contract, in degrading conditions and with an exhausting journey. Four of them were in an irregular migratory situation in Brazil.

The tax lawsuit began on May 6 and ended on Wednesday (29). The responsible company, a clothing wholesaler in the traditional neighborhood of Bom Retiro, in São Paulo, has not yet received all the assessments, so it will not have the name released at this time. The operation was attended by the Public Ministry of Labor, Federal Public Ministry, Public Defender's Office of the Union and the Center for Reference and Assistance to Immigrants (CRAI) of the Municipal Department of Human Rights and Citizenship of the Municipality of São Paulo.

Irregularities - Coordinator of the action, the audit-supervisor of Labor Lívia Ferreira reports that the workers sewed and slept in the same building. There were several rooms that made it possible to separate men, women, and families. But the bathrooms were communal and the hygiene conditions were precarious. There were also infiltrations in the rooms and the electrical installations were incompatible with the equipment that worked in the place. "The risk of fire was imminent and serious. So we immediately took everyone out immediately and headed to nearby hotels, "he said.

The people who worked in the workshop were subjected to daily hours of 13 hours and received about $ 2 per piece of sewn clothing. The pay almost never reached a monthly minimum wage, and even when it reached the value, the workers did not receive the full amount because they had discounted expenses with food, electricity, water and the expenses of the employer with the displacement of the immigrants of the country them to Brazil.

Lodging - They worked in the building from newcomers to some who were in the place four years ago. The group was coordinated by a couple, who held the keys to the building and had the power to release the workers to leave, usually on Sundays. According to the tax audit, there was no ostensible violence in this relationship, but the workers obeyed all the orders of the couple.

Fifteen children and adolescents were found in the lodging, with five infants between 20 days and seven months old. They stayed in small rooms while the mothers worked and monitored the children by electronic nannies attached to the sewing machines. "The mothers returned to work soon after giving birth to their children, without the right to maternity leave provided by law," said the auditor.

Referrals - The group of immigrants and their children were referred by the inspection to the Center of Reference and Assistance to Immigrants (CRAI) of the city of São Paulo, where they are in social and psychological care. They also had the immigration documentation regularized and the Work Portfolios signed by the employer.

Individual bank accounts have been opened so that workers can receive the amounts owed by the employer and the three installments of the Special Unemployment Insurance for Rescued Worker. The labor sums reached R $ 528,453.55 in total and have already been paid. The company that used the illegal labor of these workers will also suffer charges for exploitation of labor in conditions analogous to slaves and trafficking in persons.

It is the third case in which the Labor Inspection finds workers in slave-like conditions in São Paulo this year. In another action, occurred in Sorocaba, 12 workers were rescued in a work on the highway Raposo Tavares. In another operation, an immigrant worker of Peruvian nationality was released in an activity of jewelry sales in the eastern part of the capital.

More information - Consolidated and detailed data on completed actions to combat slave labor since 1995 are posted on the SIT Radar of SIT, at .


Ministry of Economy
Special Secretariat for Social Security and Labor 
Press Office 
Edvaldo Santos 
(61) 2021-5449