Workers Set to Strike Again if Petrobras Doesn't Raise Salary Offer

RIO DE JANEIRO - Brazilian oil workers gave state-run energy giant Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, until Wednesday to boost its latest salary offer or face a nationwide strike Oct. 11, the union representing oil workers confirmed Monday.

Petrobras and the Brazilian Oil Workers Federation, or FUP, will meet Wednesday for a round of talks, a union spokeswoman said. FUP is an umbrella union that negotiates on behalf of 12 affiliated unions across Brazil. It represents nearly 60,000 of Petrobras's 75,000 employees.

Petrobras didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Union officials are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss results of the negotiations and the possible strike. Workers will hold meetings between Friday and Oct. 10 to vote, the FUP spokeswoman said.

"If Petrobras doesn't raise their proposal on Wednesday, then workers will vote on a broader strike that would likely target oil production and fuel supplies," the union spokeswoman said. If approved, the strike would start Oct. 11.

Oil workers held a 24-hour "warning" strike last Wednesday, with workers declining to change shifts at refineries, terminals and inland oil fields. Workers at offshore platforms performed only routine services. The strike didn't affect crude-oil production or refining at Petrobras, the company said.

The differences between oil workers and Petrobras, which is controlled by the government, underscores a growing number of salary disputes across Brazil as employees call on companies and the government to increase wages and benefits. Workers are asking for a greater share in the country's economic growth and are seeking to offset higher local prices. Bank workers recently settled a nine-day walkout, while postal workers remain on strike.

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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