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BRAZIL
Ethanol producer used “slave labor”
1/14/2010
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Development bank cuts credit lines for country´s largest ethanol fuel producer.

Brazil´s largest sugar cane and ethanol producer Cosan had its employees working in conditions of “slave labor,” the Labor Ministry said late last year, putting it on a black list that prompted the National Development Bank of Brazil to suspend the company´s credit loans.

Government authorities freed 42 people in the production plant, where officials said they were forced to work exhaustive schedules without bathrooms, with unsafe transportation, for between US$312 y $375 a month, before being discounted rent and other expenses.

In a statement, the bank said it cut the company´s credit lines for two years after the irregularities were discovered at its plant in Igarapava in the São Paulo state.

Cosan called the measure “abusive and hostile” and blamed the subcontracted company used to cut the cane for the abuses. A court granted it an injunction, removing it from the list, but it awaits a final ruling to be removed entirely from the list.

Cosan employees 2,000 workers and has 23 production units, four refineries and two port terminals. In June, the bank had given the company a $452-million loan for a new sugar and ethanol plant.

The company is the world´s third-largest sugar producer and fifth-largest ethanol producer.

According to Brazil´s Labor Ministry, 3,571 workers were freed from slave-like working conditions last year, throughout the country.
—Latinamerica Press.


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