“We talked to the consortium of companies building the stadium and convinced them that they could be using these workers after they were properly trained,” said Valdiney Arruda, who is in charge of the labor ministry program. “They knew it was a good opportunity and opened up spots for them. These workers studied and now they have good housing and eat properly thanks to this.”
Silva is one of 25 former labor slaves now working at the Arena Pantanal. He started as an assistant bricklayer, making more money than he had ever made in life, and is already getting trained to find a better-paying position in the near future.
“My life is completely different now,” the 44-year-old Silva told the AP. “A lot has changed. Now I’m making some good money, I’m really happy. I’m helping build one of these stadiums and hopefully one day I’ll be able to show it to my children.”
The companies using the former slaves said it was an easy decision to accept these workers, because the civil construction sector is struggling to attract labor.
“Because of this program, they will be able to continue working in civil construction in the future,” said Simone Ponce, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara and Mendes Junior consortium. “The social legacy will be tremendous.”
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