Petrobras Requests More Time to Consider Worker's Demands

Petrobras has requested an extra day to analyze oil workers' demands and to decide whether it will make changes to its salary adjustment proposal. The Brazilian Oil Workers Federation, FUP, said earlier that workers had given a deadline of midday Wednesday for Petrobras to present a new wage hike proposal. Otherwise, they would begin a three-day strike. FUP said Petrobras then sent the union a message Wednesday saying it will respond to workers' demands Thursday.

"Petrobras said it's analyzing our demands, which we reiterated in a meeting with the company on Tuesday," said Jose Maria Rangel, a spokesman at the federation. Also on Tuesday, Petrobras' chief executive Jose Eduardo Dutra said he hoped to reach a deal with workers to avoid a strike.

Dutra said Petrobras was reviewing its proposal, and would offer adjustments in the package, which could be in the form of benefits, but not an actual salary raise.

Petrobras has offered a 10.7% raise, as well as a promotion to all workers to a higher salary bracket, which could add another 5% to their salaries.

The union said it doesn't consider the promotion a salary increase, as it's not valid for retired employees under Petrobras' current proposal. Workers are demanding a 15.5% readjustment to compensate for inflation from September 2002 to August 2003, plus a 6.8% hike, which would count as their share of the company's productivity gains in the period.

Brazil's oil workers went on a 24-hour warning strike in early September to ask Petrobras for the 22.3% pay increase.