The class struggle in two acts. A cycle of strikes in Brazilian sugarcane plantations (Nordeste)

Special report: “Conflicts at work”
By Lygia Sigaud


This text examines a cycle of strikes that occurred between 1979 and 1985 in the Pernambuco Zona da Mata, involving 200,000 workers from the large sugarcane plantations and resulting in collective contracts that contained regulatory norms for living conditions and labor conditions on the plantations, such as wages, housing and access to land for planting subsistence crops. The starting point is the analytic distinction between the two constitutive moments of the cycle: the moment of the strike and the interregnum. The first part of the text focuses on the moment of the strike, its features, the actors involved and what was at stake for them. The second part analyzes the interregnum, the conflicts that characterize it and their underlying logic. The third and conclusive part highlights the effects of the cycle at different scales.


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