Brazil oil workers reject Petrobras wage offer; strike is possible
By Jeb Blount
RIO DE JANEIRO, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Brazil's largest oil workers union strongly rejected on Friday a proposal from Petrobras for a deal over salaries and benefits in their annual talks, increasing the risk of a new strike at the state-led oil company.
Leaders of the Federação Única dos Petroleiros (FUP) union said the terms broke agreements made in November to end a 20-day strike that was the company's longest in 20 years.
According to Brazilian labor laws, workers have the right to renegotiate pay and benefits every year on specific dates. Workers usually try to convince companies to increase salaries to levels at least close to the inflation accumulated in the previous 12 months, to compensate for lost purchasing power.
Brazilian inflation reached 8.98 percent in August.
But Brazilian companies have offered almost no raises this year as the country suffered its worst recession in generations.
Petrobras, which is struggling to maintain minimum investments as it tries to manage the largest debt in the oil industry at $125 billion, offered a 4.97 percent increase in salaries, but said it would cut overtime payments and regular working shifts.
"The proposed contract revision that Petrobras presented to FUP and its unions is an affront to workers," FUP coordinator Jose Maria Rangel said in a statement. "Nothing is going to guarantee our demands, the maintenance of our salaries except a fight. FUP and its unions will provide a tough response."
Last year's strike was largely against plans by Petrobras to sell about $15 billion of assets by the end of 2016 and reduce operations at small on-shore fields. Continuación...