Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Brazil: Leadership Training Programme in Belo Horizonte

Participants at the Belo Horizonte training course
StreetNet organised the third in a series of training programmes for vendors' organisations in the Host Cities of the World Cup in Brazil. It took place in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, on 27th and 28th August.  There were 11 participants the first day (including 4 women) and 18 participants the second day (including 7 women). The Association of Stallholders of Mineirão Stadium (ABAEM), which represents the informal traders who have been displaced as a result of the closure of the main stadium ,was responible for organising the course in partnership with StreetNet.

Apart from representatives of ABAEM, there were also members of the Belo Horizonte Popular Committee of those Affected by the World Cup (COPAC), the "Hippy Market" Association, representatives of traders from the Pampulha area and the "toreros", cart-owners who have no fixed trading place and who are the most vulnerable in terms of police abuse and violence.

The course was facilitated by Maira Vanucchi.  It began with a brief introduction about StreetNet and the World Class Cities for All Campaign, followed by a group dynamic to allow participants to introduce each other. The participants then outlined their expectations of the course, and the facilitator reviewed them, explaining  the programme objectives and the course content  and which of the expectations could realistically be met during these two days.

Group work examined the following questions:
  • what are the main challenges facing informal traders in Belo Horizonte;
  • what are the external challenges which refer to the relations with public authorities and what are the internal challenges which refer to organisation, representation and mobilisation of workers;
  • what instruments or tools are available to traders in order to mobilise around their demands.
Working on the draft letter of demands to the Municipality
During the afternoon, the participants examined the issues that could form part of a letter of demands to the local authorities, identifying which points were common to all the traders and which referred specifically to the situation of the Mineirão Stadium traders.

Then followed a plenary reflection about the strategies for action, taking into account the need to bring together the different associations which represents the various sectors of informal trading in the city.  The letter to FIFA and the implications of the General Law of the Cup was also presented, and the importance of calling for respect for traders'  rights as workers during the World Cup was emphasised, using channels such as the Municipal and State Secretaries for the Cup and the Local Organising Committee.  

At the end of the day, a member of the Popular Committee presented a video about the police violence against the Hippie Market traders who were protesting a plan to relocate the market.  The Committee promised to accompany the traders in their demands and to help by making audiovisual materials to denounce any violations of their rights. 

On the second day, Maria do Carmo, the educator from the CUT Trade Union School, gave a presentation about the history of the workers'  movement in the world and in Brazil, and the main aims and strategies of the CUT. 

Participants were very interested in her presentation and there was a good discussion about the relevance of CUT in the current situation and its support for informal workers. The educator encouraged the participants to request a meeting with the President of CUT-Minais Gerais in order to discuss how the CUT could support their demands in the future. 

In the afternoon, the participants started the work of drafting a letter of demands, and together, after much discussion, the draft was finalised. 

Finally, the following actions were agreed : 
  •  hold a meeting with other sectors of informal traders sectors in the city in order to discuss the letter of demands with them, ask for their support and to add any additional points as necessary. 
  • hand over the letter of demands to the Mayoral candidates for the elections in October;
  • organise a protest rally outside the Indpendência Stadium with the support of the Popular Committee;
  • production of audiovisual materials together with the Popular Committee. Facilitator: Maira Vanucchi;   Educator: Maria do Carmo, CUT Trade Union School; Venue: SindiElectro,   R Mucuri, 271 - Floresta. Belo Horizonte/Minas Gerais.

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