Campos Basin accounts for about 80 percent of Brazil's total oil output, now standing at around 1.5 million barrels per day. Skeleton teams were working on the rigs maintaining minimum production levels and safety norms.
Petrobras oil workers are protesting against the smaller share of profits they are getting from the state-owned company, which has been posting record profits in the past few years. Unions said the nationwide strike should affect 34,000 workers in the sector and slash output in the Campos basin by at least 40 percent. The last nationwide strike of Petrobras workers in October 2001 lasted 5 days and seriously affected national output, making Brazil import more oil and hitting the country's fragile trade balance.
Now unions said the strike would not jeopardize national supply, but made clear it was an act of warning. "We will end this strike now and then talk to the company. If they remain defiant, we do not rule out another strike which may be longer," Carrara said. "So far, we had no response from the company."
In a 2001 profit sharing program, Petrobras paid its workers 11 percent of the 2.5 billion reais ($1.1 billion) in dividends it disbursed to shareholders that year. But this year, the company was only planning to pay out to workers 7 percent of the 3.5 billion reais in dividends due to be disbursed to shareholders May 3.
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