Petrobras Workers Prepare for 24hr Strike

The 36,000 workers at Brazil's federal energy company Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) are preparing for a 24-hour strike starting at 11:30pm Monday (June 7) to protest against the slow pace of talks with company management, local press reported.

The workers want management to speed up talks on career and pension plans, the elimination of differences in contracts for employees hired since 1997 and an increase in the distribution of profits to employees, Itamar Sanches, the coordinator of the oil workers union (Sindipetro) at the company's largest refinery (Replan), told BNamericas.

The strike was approved by about 70% of unionized workers in regional assemblies held over the weekend.

Some regional unions are expected to approve the strike Monday, he said. "This is a warning strike to see whether management delivers what it agreed," he said. The union would only back down if Petrobras makes a good offer in before the stoppage's scheduled start.

The last 24-hour strike by Petrobras workers was held in September and led to an agreement in November, with the creation of committees to detail the issues.

"The talks in the committees have been too slow and we suspect that this is an order from the government to keep spending down because it is giving preference to paying the country's debt," Sanches said. The labor union is also preparing a five-day strike in July in case there is no breakthrough in talks. "A five-day stoppage will affect output and management will see how expensive it is to withhold workers' rights," Sanches said.

The union will hold a national meeting June 16-20 to determine the size of the salary increase it will propose to Petrobras management in September.

Petrobras "has maintained, and maintains, all channels of negotiations open with workers," a company spokesperson told BNamericas.

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