A Lens on Labour

A Lens on Labour

A snapshot of labour rights in the informal economy with Bob Everson Carvalho Machado, a Brazilian labour inspector attending the Academy on Workplace Compliance through Labour Inspection

Man during interview

On a crisp winter’s morning while the Academy on Workplace Compliance through Labour Inspection was coming to a close, I caught up with participant Bob Everson Carvalho Machado who works at the Labour Inspectors’ Trade Union in Brazil.

The Right to Work

His job in the south of Brazil focuses mainly on the informal economy and the issues accompanying this new form of work. Child labour and forced labour are unfortunately prevalent in Brazil’s work force, matters that Bob and other labour inspectors are dedicated to fighting against. 

Photo of participants working at academy

When asked why he chose a career in labour inspection, he explained it was the human dimension that intrigued him:

I like people. In labour inspection we talk with a lot of people. We can sometimes change the lives of these people. It’s a very good career because you have the respect of the society, but you can also give back to the society.

In this new professional platform, people are autonomous yet do not have social security. Within the trade union, Bob strives to protect informal workers and guarantee safe working conditions. “At 9, 10, 11 years old, it’s too dangerous,” he shares regarding child labour, “A child has to go to school, not work.” 

Shared Experience

Bob came to the International Training Centre of the ILO for the first time to participate in the Academy on Workplace Compliance through Labour Inspection, and left filled with new ideas and skills. During the Academy, participants discussed the role of labour inspection in the future of work in order to promote fundamental principles and rights at work.

Man talking with his hands

The main motivation for Bob was to learn more and gain knowledge about how the ILO deals with employee and employer problems around the world. He found it to be an enriching experience among different countries and cultures: “We can share our difficulties, problems, and solutions. I think every labour inspector should do it.”

By sharing our experiences, labour inspectors around the world will become closer and stronger.

He’s returning to Brazil with a suitcase full of new views for his colleagues. Back home, he is experiencing many changes because of the new president and rising political tensions. “These conflicts in the past years have impacted the labour law in Brazil,” he explains. “Due to some of these changes, workers have lost rights,” he adds.

Nevertheless, he remains optimistic and dedicated to his work as a labour inspector:

I would like to try to change the law in Brazil to protect more people and give people more rights. In the trade union, we try to bridge this gap. Maybe we can’t, but we’ll try.

Chasing the Sun

When Bob isn’t at the forefront of advocating for improved labour rights, he’s behind the lens. “Photography is my passion. I always travel with my camera, tripod, and equipment,” he opens up. 

When he travels around the world and throughout Brazil, he’s on the lookout for breathtaking landscapes. While in Turin he ventured to the top of the Basilica of Superga and out to the Dolomites. “It’s good to relax the mind and breathe a little while waiting for the sunset,” he reflects. 

Camera lenses

Whether out on the run for the sunrise or focused on eradicating child labour, Bob is fully dedicated and filled with passion. We hope to see him again soon at the ITCILO!