Trade union solidarity pushed to protect Amazon rainforest and decent work

The Building and Woodworkers’ International (BWI) and its affiliates called for the establishment of a “Trade Union Amazon Solidarity Network” to organise international solidarity actions to protect Brazil’s Amazon rainforest and ensure decent work in the area. 

In a declaration, which was signed by BWI together with the Brazilian Trade Union Confederations CUT, NCST, UGT, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) and the Swedish Union of Forestry, Wood and Graphical Workers (GS), the trade unions also urged the Brazilian government to urgently change its environmental policies and reactivate systems for forest surveillance and sustainable economic activity. 

The trade unions said that since the start of the Bolsonaro government in 2019, the Amazon suffered from increased fires and illegal logging. In 2020, deforestation and burning destroyed 87,762 km² of the rainforest, or the area equivalent of Austria. Many advocates pointed to the government’s deliberate policy of prioritizing agribusiness and “extractivism” as one of the main causes of the environmental destruction. 

But the situation in the Amazon is not only about the environment. Trade unions reported that there is a marked increase in the cases of violence against the local indigenous population, peasants and environmentalists. According to the country’s Catholic Church, around 300 people were murdered in the context of conflicts over the use of land and natural resources in the Amazon. 

BWI and its affiliates urged the Brazilian government to hold accountable all those responsible for the deforestation and illegal mining in the area. They also called on the authorities to ensure the safety and security of threatened indigenous leaders, community, religious and trade unions, and the resumption of tripartite social dialogues. 

Read the declaration in English  and Portuguese