Brazil's Petrobras, union strike talks fail, risk of fuel shortage rises
By Jeb Blount and Rodrigo Viga Gaier
RIO DE JANEIRO Nov 9 (Reuters) - Brazil's Petrobras and unions failed to reach an agreement on Monday over worker demands that the state-run oil company reverse budget cuts and cancel assets sales aimed at trimming its massive debt, union and company officials said.
The week-old strike, already the biggest in 20 years, now risks an impasse that could hurt domestic fuel supplies and further hobble a company already under financial pressure and the fallout from a corruption scandal.
"Our demands are not for salaries, but in defense of national sovereignty and that the company goes back to being the impulse for development of the country," FUP, the country's main oil-union federation said late Monday.
Combined with a growing truckers strike, the Petrobras walkout could further harm a Brazilian economy already struggling with its worst recession in decades.
The two sides plan to meet again on Tuesday. A Petrobras official with direct knowledge of the talks told Reuters on Monday the company expects an agreement by the end of the week.
"There is still no deal, but the unions better understand the company's economic situation," said the official, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.
While FUP is asking for an 18 percent salary increase, more than double the country's inflation rate, union officials say their demands to reverse nearly $100 billion in budget cuts and stop plans to sell oil fields and a stake in its distribution unit are more important.
Without the sales and budget cuts Petrobras will have trouble paying its more than $130 billion of debt, the largest in the oil industry, the company says. Continuación...