Petrobras union may follow 24-hour strike with September walkout
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 23 (Reuters) - Brazil's main oil workers union is considering an open-ended strike in September if a 24-hour walkout scheduled for midnight Thursday fails to stop moves to shrink state-run oil company Petrobras, a senior union official said.
FUP, which represents platform, refinery and other workers, is fighting plans by Petroleo Brasileiro SA, as Petrobras is known, to sell $15.1 billion of assets by the end of 2016.
Petrobras wants to pay down debt, which at about $120 billion is the largest of any oil company, as well as generate cash for investment and revive investor confidence after a giant corruption scandal.
FUB also opposes a bill before Brazil's Senate seeking to strip Petrobras of its right to all new development work in a giant offshore area known as Subsalt Polygon and end a requirement that Petrobras take a minimum 30 percent stake in exploration and production rights in the area.
"If our demands aren't met, we are ready for an open-ended strike in September," said Simão Zanardi, a member of the national directorate of FUP, Brazil's largest federation of oil workers union. "We will not let them sell off what belongs to all Brazilians."
FUP opposes any non-government involvement in Petrobras and wants the company, which has had non-government shareholders since the 1950s, totally nationalized.
While most Petrobras strikes have had little or no impact on production, FUP wants to revive the spirit of a 31-day strike in 1995.
That strike ended due to the government threatening mass lay-offs, but Zanardi believes it helped avert a privatization of Petrobras in 1997, when it was stripped of its monopoly on exploration, production and refining in Brazil. Continuación...