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The Household Employees Union in Rio : A vantage point for observing changes in domestic service workers’ employment in Brazil - D. Vidal

Dominique Vidal
Université Paris-Diderot–Paris-7, URMIS, Paris, France

Available online 23 February 2009 on ScienceDirect

Studying the policies implemented by the Household Employees Union in Rio de Janeiro shows that when new social rights are extended to domestic service workers, it gives them a new sense of justice, leading to a growing number of lawsuits against employers. However, given the role it is made to play in the Brazilian legal system, the Union’s position is ambivalent. Light is shed on the strained relationships between the various categories of people who come to its offices – tensions that tell us much about social relations generally. Attention is then turned to this small Union’s role in the courts : after cases are heard, household employees often come away feeling their rights have been fairly upheld.

Keywords : Labor disputes ; Legal counseling ; Household employment ; Sense of justice ; Labor unions ; Brazil

Article Outline

  • 1. Accessing the law and the growth of a new sense of justice
    • 1.1. A new legal frame
    • 1.2. A new interpretive frame
    • 1.3. Arduous conflicts
  • 2. An awkward position for an organization
    • 2.1. From volunteer association to union
    • 2.2. Atypical union and activists
  • 3. Greeting the public
    • 3.1. Union activists and female applicants : two contrasting visions of household employment and legal rights
    • 3.2. Variations on pecking order, equality and similarities
  • 4. Preparing a court action
    • 4.1. Backing poor and vulnerable women
    • 4.2. Searching for a settlement
  • 5. Conclusion
  • Appendix A. Methodological annex
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 51, Supplement 1, June 2009, Pages e1–e14
Translation by Gabrielle Varro