In Brazil, companies in the communication sector fire their workers and/or reduce their wages, in addition to cutting the working hours of their staff. Despite this situation, journalists work in harsher and more difficult conditions and often do so without the measures and equipment necessary to protect their health.
Wage cuts have taken place in many media, including big companies. The Rio de Janeiro-based publisher Globo or the newspaper O Estado in Sao Paulo have applied 25% cuts in workers' wages and a similar reduction in their hours of work. All wage cuts have been authorized by the Brazilian government.
The situation is even more serious in the media, which has experienced mass layoffs in at least five states across the country. Journalists' unions are fighting to prevent changes to labor contracts from being made through individual agreements, but rather to be negotiated collectively to protect the most basic rights of workers.
On the other hand, media professionals who have not lost their jobs or work as freelancers face serious threats to their health, such as the stress or anxiety caused by covering the pandemic on frontline and the real risk of contagion by COVID-19.
To date, three journalists have died from the virus and there are several colleagues infected in 4 Brazilian states, in particular in Rio de Janeiro, where dozens of journalists have contracted the virus.
Advised by the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ), journalists' unions are negotiating health measures to protect workers with media companies. From FENAJ, we also advise journalists to identify and report risk situations, to take all necessary protective measures and to inform their unions of situations in which companies do not comply with health recommendations.
Maria José Braga, President of FENAJ and member of the IFJ Executive Committee