Strengthening unions: the case of irrigated agriculture in the Brazilian north-east

The development of an unionized work force in the north-east of Brazil is described. The area has seen considerable growth in the export markets for grapes and mangoes which provides significant employment; other areas of employment are in labour-intensive crops, for example tomatoes and onions. The paper discusses: some new union strategies, improvements for wage labourers, and some of the limited victories that have been achieved with the work of the NGO, Oxfam. It is argued that there are limits to this kind of development model given the low value of the wages earned by the workers. The conclusion proposes considerable networking amongst unions and NGOs with the aim of providing information that may allow them to define and implement new directions for development. Abstract supplied by kind permission of CABI. This article is freely available as a chapter in Development and Social Action.