Through all its history the CONTTMAF, Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Transportes Aquaviários e Aéreos, na Pesca e nos Portos, has reaffirmed the fight in defense of the labor rights progress, by a active Union representation not only in the international and national political scenery but also in the labor conditions that will permeate the every day work of its represented. The episodes, that marked the Confederacy history, are merged with the development of different and outstanding political sceneries of the Brazilian history.
Founded on March 25th, 1957, the entity was created with the name Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Transporte Marítimo, Aéreos e Fluviais.
Unfortunately, there is not registers of this period until the year of 1964, like it was said by the Master Rômulo Augustus Pereira de Souza, Confederacy’s ex-president, which witnessed some memorable moments of the Confederacy’s trajectory. “I understand that, I am probably, one of the last alive witnesses of one of the most outstanding phases of our Union, in which I fought for almost eighteen years. However, It was never known what really happend in the Confederacy between its foundation and the 1964 military coup. No documentation regarding the Confederacy was preserved, but some few references to the First Congress, realized in the early sixty’s at Rio de Janeiro, were found. Apparently, they were forfeit or destroyed during the intervention”. With the 1964 military coup, the Confederacy, which until the intervention was headed by the aviator, Colonel Mello Bastos, was invaded and put under intervention. They had all their documentation apprehended and the Union’s Board of Directors was put aside and some of their representatives were arrested.
After the intervention, the Seafarer Esmeraldo Barros, which was part of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force – BEF, was elected in 1965 and headed the entity for two years. In the end of his mandate, the Confederacy was evictioned of the building they used to ocupy for the nonpayment of rent. The Maritime Union representation moved to a room next to the Sindicato dos Maquinistas Motoristas, Union that represented the engineer officers.
After that, the stevedore Waldino Pedro dos Santos, from the Rio de Janeiro Ore Stowage, took over the Confederacy presidency. “Between the late sixty’s and the 70’s, the CONTTMAF resurged from the ashes, they had their own Head Office and they also had positive acting in the Union scenery, inclusive in the international circuit.
In this period the Confederacy tried to transform in a fact, the representation entitled by Law in the CLT - Brazilian Consolidation of Labor Laws. And, therefore, we pursued the strengthening of the affiliated federations, and consequently, their Base Unions. We did not save up efforts for that, and in its own time our goal was accomplished”, remembers Rômulo, who was vice-president of the entity on that time. The Master headed the CONTTMAF from 1978 untill 1986. After him, the civil aviator commandant Aloísio Ribeiro was elected. Between 1987 and 1996, the Merchant Officer Maurício Monteiro Sant’Anna headed the entity. The ratification of the OIT – International Labour Organization - 137 Convention, which deals with the social repercussions of the new methods of loading and unloading in the harbours, was one of the biggest achievements of this period.
One of the Confederacy outstanding characteristics, through all its history, is the political resistance present, above all, in the critical moments, like the dictatorial one in the Médici Government. “Although we did not have connections with the resistance movements, in more than one opportunity, more by humanity duty, we helped some mates to escape of torture or even of death, utilizing an escape route by the Alamar-Sul, shipping line, explored on that time by private companies. Such activities, besides illegal, had too high costs for our already bankrupt coffers. I believe, however, that besides of the hard times, it was an honor, for the history of CONTTMAF, to help those people in such a dark period. A behavior, by the way, that was absolutely unique for a Brazilian Union during the dictatorship” as remembers Rômulo.
From the countless episodes that marked the Confederacy trajectory in the years in which Master Rômulo headed it, he highlights also the filiation to the International Transport Workers’ Federation, in 1973: “after we realize in Geneva, in that year, that we were unable of acting in a powerful way in the international events, we requested to the Ministry of Labor the authorization for our filiation to the international federacy.
After some months, we received a written notice signed by the Ministry of Labor legal adviser, Marcelo Pimentel, which after became Minister and President of the Superior Labour Court, denying our request of filiation to the ITF. The reason was that our activities were placed in areas considered of national security. It was not permitted connections of Brazilian Unions to international organizations, whichever were their way of acting. Despite of this, we decided to ignore their decision and pay the filiation tax directly to the ITF – without utilizing the competent authorities; while that we requested the reconsideration of the government’s position.
Another outstanding moment of the CONTTMAF occurred in 1978 with the Stevedores National Strike. Brazil was living in a period of suspension of rights and the harbor strikes were strictly prohibited, for reasons of “national security”. The movement, which began in Santos, was in favor of the maintenance of the Stevedores Hospital and for better working conditions, especially for the temporary workers. After the 5th day of mobilization, a governmental joint, integrated by the then president Ernesto Geisel, convoked the Confederacy for a meeting. After the meeting, the dockworkers claims were resolved. One year after this incident, the confederacy coordinated one of the biggest strike movements of the port sector in Santos, which resulted in the first collective labor contract of that category’s history. The negotiations for the end of the strike involved the participation of the then Minister of Planning Delfim Netto.
Another memorable moment of the CONTTMAF’s history was the realization of debates promoted by the Second Confederacy Congress, at Fortaleza, Ceará in 1981. During the meeting, hundreds of union leaders and workers of the whole country endorsed the deliberations for the creation of the Interunion Department of Parliamentary Advisory. One of the entity idealizers, Ulisses Riedel de Resende was the Confederacy labor lawyer. The project approved, was the draft of a body party, detached of any ideological stream, party line and religious belief. They were engaged, however, with the workers defense, attempting to inform them. The Congress signified a cry for emancipation of the confederative union movement that, since 1964 was suffering with threats to the political freedom. The positioning of the political independence, one of the Confederacy outstanding characteristics, and its articulation force and entity mobilization, were also highlighted in recent episodes.
To order a mutual interlocution, compatible with the specificities of each represented segment, was a challenge embraced by the Confederacy since the beginning of its trajectory. For the entity Legal Adviser, Edson Martins Areias, “to articulate actions capable of embracing all specificities inherent to each sector represented, it is one of the Confederacy historical characteristics.” During its history, countless were the examples of articulation and resistance. However, some episodes marked the entity recent history.
In 2004, the CONTTMAF dribbled the competent authorities’ inertia and made an historical rescue, of the six crew members of the Brazilian flag vessel Neptunia Mediterrâneo, which was wrecked at the Ushuaia bay, Argentina. In the occasion, the shipowner had abandoned the workers without communication on board, suffering with cold and rationing of food and drinkable water. On the vessel there wasn’t even a boat for evasion in case of an emergency. “The crew members situation couldn’t be worst. The local temperature in June, when occurred the rescue, was two degrees below zero. The bay water temperature, which stays at the meridional limit of the american continent, don’t permit that, once in water, someone survive for more than three minutes. Besides that, this episode could have created a diplomatic incident between Brazil and Argentina”, remembers the Legal Adviser that participated actively in this case.
The Neptunia Mediterrâneo Master, Julio César Matos D’Almeida, who was the last crew member rescued, was in the limit of his physical and psychological conditions. The Confederacy provided all the operational and judicial measures to guarantee the Brazilian workers security. “The CONTTMAF gave to us total support in this incident. Despite of what we experienced in that chaotic situation, we didn’t lose the calm. If weren’t the Confederacy, maybe I had not left that vessel alive”, remembers the crew member.
In that same year, the CONTTMAF realized a big mobilization in favor of the dredging of the Cabedelo Port, Paraiba. In the occasion, the harbor remained almost three months without commercial traffic of vessels, what hampered the regional dock workers.
With the entity’s intervention, the Ministry of Transportation released an amount of money for the continuity of the dredging works. Another huge movement in favor of better working conditions of the dock workers was realized in 2004, when the entity support the Container Terminal workers of the Suape Harbor cause, in Pernambuco. The non-signing of the ACT, in the occasion, was threatening the jobs of almost 1.800 regional temporary dock workers. At the same year, the entity supported, also, a movement of mobilization promoted in Brazilia against the then proposal of the federal government for the Trade Union reform. The act assembled more than 30 thousand workers of several sectors and segments in favor of the Trade Union unity.
However it was not only on these incidents that the Confederacy manisfeted its force and political articulation. In 1999, one year after the entity’s statutory review, by which was included the representativeness of the Maritimes and Fishermen, the CONTTMAF protested against the Vessel Strategic Management and fought against the outsourcing of the maritime workmanship by the Petrobras. The protest was promoted in partnership with the International Transport Workers’ Federation – ITF – entity which the Confederacy is affiliated – and had a worldwide repercussion. Outside of the country, the Confederacy, by its permanent representation at London, England, participates actively, with propositions of the devices normalization elaborated by the International Maritime Organization – IMO.
The CONTTMAF syndical and political actions also were fundamental in the Brazilian Merchant Marine revitalization and in the search for better working conditions. In 1995, the entity promoted actions that enabled the signature of the Ordinance n° 210, which deals with the surveillance of the labor protection norms on board, prescribed in the Convention 147 of the International Labor Organization – ILO. Another outstanding fact of the entity recent history was the establishment, in 2006, of the Normative Resolution n°72 of the National Immigration Council, resultant of several debates among the workers representations, shipowners and federal government. The documentation, which regulates the crew summoning of coastal navigation, maritime support and for the vessels and platforms utilized for Petroleum survey and exploration at sea brings the progressive utilization obligatoriness of Brazilians in the maritime sector after ninety days of residence of foreign vessels in jurisdictional Brazilian waters.
In the same year, the ILO Consolidated Maritime Labour Convention was approved. After five years of integrated workers and countless technical preparatory meetings, 318 delegates advised by more than eight hundred technical advisers of 106 countries, members of the ILO, approved the final document applicable to more than 1, 2 million of maritime workers worldwide. The Convention updated and assembled in one text the resolutions and the recommendations contained in another 68 conventions for the maritime work, adopted by the organization in the last 87 years. The CONTTMAF represented the Brazilian maritime workers in the meetings and participated actively of the entire consolidation process of the ILO tools for the work at sea. In his third Confederacy mandate, the President Severino Almeida highlighted the conquer importance, “The new Convention is an important instrument of defense for the wokers”, comments Severino. The Union leader is a member of the ILO Joint Maritime Commission, which initiated the consolidation process of the single convention, and he was also part of the Taskforce responsible by the redaction of the document.
The Confederacy takes part, also, of several committees, like the Comissão Permanente Nacional Aquaviária, which is responsible for the implementation of the Regulatory Standard N° 30 that talks about safety and health in the Maritime Work; the ILO Joint Maritime Commission; the Tripartite Commission of Maritime Work (this last one in the Ministry of Labor and Employment extent); the Maritime Transportation and Shipbuilding Sector Fund Commission of the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission. The Confederacy still integrates the Sectorial Chamber of Ports, Airports, Frontiers and Customs House, the Health Surveillance National Agency, the Comissão Permanente Nacional Portuária, which is responsible for the implementation of the Regulatory Standard N°29, the Merchant Marine Fund Board and the Rio de Janeiro Environmental State Council. Recently, the CONTTMAF participated of the meetings of a tripartite commission along with the ILO; it is the only Confederacy of workers to integrate the Brazilian official committee in that international organization.
The Confederacy is among the entities that received, from the Ministry of Transportation, the Medalha do Mérito Mauá in the category of Relevant Services, in recognition for the “inestimable collaboration provided for the development of Brazilian Transports”, accordant with the presidential decree published on April 22nd, 2008. In December 2006, the CONTTMAF president, Severino Almeida as the director of the entity, also received the decoration. The decoration is divided into two categories: the Cruz Mauá and Serviços Relevantes. In the first category are honored the ones that participate of the concretion of predicted objectives in the plans and in work programs of the transports sector. In the other category, Serviços Relevantes, they win the prize for working hard in the expansion and improvement of the transports in the country.