Even without a salary, more than 350 workers at Copanor (Copasa Integrated Sanitation Services of the North and Northeast of Minas Gerais S/A) remain firm in the strike in the category that exceeds eighty days. The strike is the most extensive recorded in the state in 2021. Workers demand wage adjustment compatible with the 2020 inflation, inflation correction, resumption of benefits and the guarantee of job stability.
Read too: Copanor cuts rights of workers who have been on strike for almost 50 days
Osvaldo Márcio Sampaio, coordinator of the legal department of the Union of Workers in Industry and Water Purification and Sewage Service of Minas Gerais – Sindágua/MG, denounces that the company tried to judicially delegitimize the strike of the category, seeking to make the strike illegal. However, the attempt was rejected by the Regional Labor Court and transformed into a proposal for collective bargaining, which is currently being evaluated by the court.
The lawyer also denounces other illegalities practiced by the company. “The worker who is made available for the essential activity [os grevistas estão fazendo escala mínima de atendimento], does the job and Copanor does not let you sign the attendance sheet. These are surreal situations. In a location with such a low HDI, the company does not even provide a loaf of bread to the worker. This can trigger a serious accident, as most of the jobs performed require a lot of physical strength”, he warns.
In addition to the suspended wages due to the strike, this August, Copanor workers (strikers or not) had benefits such as basic food basket and education aid cut. Even in the face of the situation, the category decided, in an assembly on the 27th, to maintain the strike. The workers allege that the company regressed in the proposals presented and now only offers the resumption of benefits in exchange for the end of the strike. And that they remain adamant about guaranteeing the stability of workers’ employment.
Fight against privatization
The guarantee of jobs is the main point of conflict between the company and the workers. The category claims that in addition to avoiding retaliation against the strikers, stability is also a way for workers to fight against the privatization of the company.
In June of this year, Governor Romeu Zema presented the Bill 2884/21 that imposes the regionalization of basic sanitation in the state. In other words, the state government transfers the responsibility for guaranteeing basic sanitation to the municipalities, as is proposed for education with the Mãos Dadas project.
Wagner Xavier, adviser to Sindagua, explains that in practice the PL implements the privatization of the sanitation service, since hundreds of municipalities, especially the poorest ones, will not be able to afford the service, handing it over to the private sector. And for that reason, guaranteeing the stability of Copanor workers is something so decisive in this fight. “They need to have the end of stability in order to dismiss the 411 workers who are currently at Copanor. That’s why it’s not just an economic strike, it’s also discussing the fight against privatization”, warns Xavier.
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PL 2884/21, authored by Romeu Zema, which proposes the privatization of sanitation in Minas, is being evaluated by the Constitution and Justice Commission of ALMG. More than 60 entities launched a Letter Manifesto against the project.
Through a note, Copanor informed our report that “the last proposal presented at the hearing was maintained, which includes a salary increase of 3.58% (equivalent to 75% of the INPC) and also an adjustment in the food program, of 5 .5%, (percentage higher than the INPC)”. However, the union rejected the proposal.
Regarding the permanence of the extinction of benefits, the company informed that it “has presented a proposal for a temporary Agreement, for the purposes of payment of the suppressed benefits, as long as the Collective Bargaining Action lasts. However, the Union did not accept the offer”.
To support the strikers, Sindagua is organizing a solidarity campaign. The amounts collected will be reverted into food baskets, gas vouchers and other aid for the company’s employees. The category informs that there is no minimum amount for donation and any amount is welcome.
PIX Email Key: [email protected]
Checking Account Cash: 500742-0
Operation: 003 (Legal Entity)
Favored: Sind Trab Ind Purif Dist Water
Source: BoF Minas Gerais
Edition: Elis Almeida