UPDATE 3-Petrobras cancels oil strike talks, union vows escalation

martes 10 de noviembre de 2015 20:25 GYT

(Adds union comment, second and third paragraphs, union output cut estimates starting in the seventh paragraph)

By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO Nov 10 (Reuters) - Brazil's state-controlled oil producer Petroleo Brasileiro SA canceled talks with union leaders that were planned for Tuesday and aimed at settling a strike that is now in its ninth day.

Members of oil union FUP have been on strike at Petrobras, as the company is known, since Nov. 1 in the biggest labor action against it in 20 years. After the cancellation, FUP, the country's largest oil workers federation, vowed to raise pressure on Petrobras.

"This is the moment to intensify," FUP said in a statement late Tuesday, adding that the walkout was beginning to reduce output from refineries as well as crude oil and natural gas output.

The union wants Petrobras to reverse plans to reduce capital spending and force it to cancel asset sales designed to lower the company's $130 billion debt, the largest of any oil company in the world. In a statement, Petrobras said it is working on "proposals" that could be presented to workers, without giving a timetable.

While the initial union salary request was for an 18 percent raise and Petrobras' initial offer was 8.1 percent, the unions said salary is not the principal aim of the strike.

Once a new date for talks is set, workers will be informed, the statement added. In the past Petrobras officials have said it could resist major production cuts from a strike for about 10 days.

Petrobras' press office said on Tuesday that the strike was cutting oil output by about 115,000 barrels a day, the same amount as Monday. That is equal to about 5.5 percent of pre-strike oil output in Brazil.   Continuación...