Union strike looms for Brazil petroleum operations

Offshore staff

RIO DE JANEIROBrazil’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, according to a Reuters report.

The FUP, which represents platform, refinery and other workers, is fighting plans by Petrobras 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 in the wake of the “operation car wash” corruption scandal.

The union opposes any non-government involvement in Petrobras and wants the company, which has had non-government shareholders since the 1950s, totally nationalized.

The FUP also opposes a bill before Brazil’s Senate seeking to strip Petrobras of its right to all new development work in an offshore area known as the Subsalt Polygon, and end a requirement that Petrobras take a minimum 30% stake in exploration and production rights in the area.

Under Brazilian law, unions must cooperate in the safe operation or shutdown of dangerous facilities. The 24-hour strike will leave many union members on the job. Petrobras officials have said it would take five to 10 days for a strike to start having a significant impact on oil or fuel output.

While Petrobras remains controlled by the state, most of its shares are owned by non-government investors. It is one of the largest non-US companies on the New York Stock Exchange.

"The company should not be used to guarantee the profits of investors," the FUP was quoted to say in a statement on Thursday. "It should be a spring to drive social and economic development in Brazil."


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