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Declaration for another kind of work in tourism

Labor Movens

2 de set. de 2023

Declaration for another kind of work in tourism

We, members of the research, teaching, and extension group "Labor Movens: working conditions in tourism," gathered in 2023 during the 4th Seminar on Critical Perspectives on Work in Tourism, held from August 31 to September 3 at the Center of Excellence in Tourism at the University of Brasília (CET/UnB), in light of the topics discussed and studied over the past years, come forward with a call to action, as follows:



The 21st century, particularly the last decade, has unveiled the injustices of the capitalist mode of production, exposing the mechanisms of an economic system based on the extraction of surplus value and the depletion of natural resources for the enrichment of a few. The feeling of revolt and social upheaval highlights the urgency for change before the long-foreseen endpoint of capitalism becomes a reality. This looming barbarity calls for action, demanding the breaking of the chains imposed by the current mode of production on our lives. With a renewed sense of belonging to an oppressed and subjugated class, we now call for effective action.



The urgency we face is not the urgency of an uncertain future; rather, it is the urgency of our historical destiny as the working class. We, the workers in tourism, predominantly live in informality. This results in fragile employment ties and the uncertainty of a stable and lasting income. We work long and hard, falling ill physically and mentally in the name of leisure that is often denied to us. The minimal doses of so-called "best practices" cannot and should not conceal exploitation and divert us from our inevitable historical role.

The various abuses of our labor, the moral and sexual harassment we endure, the glaring inequality, and the increasing platformization of work are all symptoms of a disease we can no longer ignore. This disease also manifests in the unequal treatment based on gender, race, ethnicity, origin, and education level, the mandatory transformation into self-entrepreneurs, the unrestricted outsourcing, and the direct attacks on unions and our rights to free organization.



We will no longer accept crumbs of decency offered reluctantly. It is imperative that we place ourselves at the center of the debate. We no longer want just rhetoric and the euphemism of fancy words. We need to rethink work for a non-capitalist world. A kind of work that liberates us instead of imprisoning us. We need to start building the post-capitalist world, as it is no longer a question of "if" capitalism will come to an end, but "when" it will happen.


Freedom and quality of life, which are routine words for a small fraction of workers today, we demand it for all workers. The expansive world that opens up only for certain categories, we demand it for all of us. The capitalist world made promises it never intended to keep. We were promised freedom of choice. We were promised the tranquility of a pleasant life, with heavy labor carried out by technology. We were promised the arts, sciences, and leisure. Our freedom is not true freedom; it is the prison of choices created and imposed upon us. It is a freedom confined to the world of commodities.


We are skilled workers, not unqualified servants. We are not disposable or second-class citizens serving those who enjoy the rights denied to us. We are the people! We deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We demand leisure time, free time, and a chance to exist beyond the shackles of informality. At work, we demand equal opportunities and equal pay, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, origin, or age. We demand rest between shifts, paid weekly breaks, and vacations. We yearn for meaningful connections in our work that guarantee our full social engagement. We have rights, and we are determined to exercise them.


The State, so present in our lives, and yet so unknown, owes us! The bourgeoisie, which implants its ideal world in our minds, owes us! Our right to effectively participate in the State is not recognized. But we have gaps that can be exploited, we have the strength to transform small passageways into large tunnels. We clean the environments, serve drinks by the pools, stand at reception desks, spend days going back and forth from beaches, mountains, clubs, accommodations, event halls; we carry loads, work nights, and smile. We guide groups of people, entertain people of all ages, sell products we often cannot afford, supervise ourselves, create statistics, build management tools, teach what we know to the new generations, and strive to be supportive. We are available 24/7. When and how will we be able to enjoy all the things we have built?


The State owes us, and we demand participation and the construction of our own world. We want employment and income policies built by us and truly for us. Considering the reality of tourism workers and seasonality, we call for a Universal Basic Income that ensures a minimum of dignity in a world driven by the commoditization of basic needs. We want the repeal of the labor reform and the strengthening of labor legislation that truly protects us. We demand effective and strong inspections to put an end to slave and child labor. We demand an end to the overexploitation imposed on us by the major capital holders through force and their colorful, friendly apps and interfaces. We are not commodities.


In the capitalist system, all that's left for us is the fight, and so we fight. We seek nothing idealized, nothing that will come to pass in an uncertain future, but rather to change the concrete reality of our lives today. We are the philosopher class, which, as Marx pointed out, will finally cease to interpret the world in order to set in motion the necessary transformations. If we are treated by the capitalist system as unworthy individuals, mere consumers, servants, attendants, and if it seems that all that's left for us is to accept this, then let that system be brought down! Whether gradually, by corroding it, weakening it, or by using its own tools, but let that system be brought down!


We don’t call for an ideal, but for a confrontation, a clear and concrete stance. We must become the critical class, not merely seeking to alleviate suffering, but to fundamentally change reality. We need immediate improvement, and we must act! As Marx remind us, criticism cannot, obviously, replace concrete struggle; material force must also be deposed by material force. Thus, the critical theory we build here in this seminar also becomes a force for action when appropriated by the people. We must participate in politics, create our own political movements. At every level, let us use our influence to transform reality.


Brasília, September 2, 2023.


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