July 2, 2016 / 5:11 PM / 2 years ago

Unions to launch 3-day strike at Brazil's Eletrobras on Monday

BRASILIA, July 2 (Reuters) - Workers at Brazil’s electricity holding Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA will launch a three-day strike on Monday to demand higher salaries and protest plans to privatize part of the company, unions said on Saturday.

Eletrobras, as the state-controlled company is commonly known, said in a statement it would respect workers’ right to strike but added they should reflect about the company’s crisis after years of massive losses.

A downsizing at Eletrobras is essential because the company’s current financial situation is “unsustainable,” Brazil’s energy minister said last month.

In recent years, Eletrobras has been forced by the government to take over money-losing distribution utilities in sparsely populated states. At the same time the government crimped its revenue by forcing Eletrobras to slash power rates.

The government hopes asset sales will boost efficiency and cut operational losses, allowing it to boost cash for investments and to pay 40 billion reais ($12.3 billion) of debt.

Eletrobras is among the 10 largest energy conglomerates in the world. It controls 15 subsidiaries in Brazil and has large stakes in the country’s largest hydroelectric power plants, besides operating two nuclear reactors near Rio de Janeiro. (Reporting by Silvio Cascione; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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