Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Drone pilot program in Brazil could benefit abused agricultural workers in the U.S.

A pilot program using drones could benefit abused agricultural workers throughout the world. The Brazil government announced that next month its labor inspectors, "who investigate properties that are suspected of employing workers in slave-like conditions, will use six drones equipped with cameras to monitor suspicious activities" of slave labor in rural areas, Adriana Brasileiro reports for Reuters. "Brazil defines slave labor as work carried out in degrading conditions or in conditions that pose a risk to the worker's life. Forced labor and working to pay off debts incurred with the employer are also considered slave labor."

In the U.S., 16 percent of all agricultural workers are undocumented. In Virginia, 26 percent of farm workers are immigrants, some of them young children, and in some states teenage immigrants are working 12-hour shifts in hazardous conditions in tobacco fields. In June, a California pot farmer was given a life sentence for killing an undocumented worker who was unhappy with his pay and working conditions.

"In May 1995, Brazil officially recognized the active use of slave labor in the economy," Brasileiro writes. "That year, the Labor Ministry launched a Special Mobile Enforcement Group that works with prosecutors and the police to find and raid farms and companies that employ slave workers. Since then, 50,000 people have been freed from slave-like work." (Read more)

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