Brazilian oil workers start 48-hr strike

Brazilian oil workers, represented by the Federacion Unica de Petroleros (FUP), announced plans for a 48-hour nationwide strike against state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA beginning July 17.

Eric Watkins
Senior Correspondent

LOS ANGELES, July 17 -- Brazilian oil workers, represented by the Federacion Unica de Petroleros (FUP), announced plans for a 48-hour nationwide strike against state-owned Petroleo Brasileiro SA beginning July 17.

FUP official Jose Genivaldo Silva said the group is planning the 2-day work stoppage "in repudiation" of Petrobras' position, estimating that at least 30,000 of the state firm's 55,000 workers would participate in the strike.

Silva predicted that production would not be completely halted, but insisted it would be "affected."

The FUP strike, scheduled to start at 12:01 a m July 17, will be staged in solidarity with 1,600 workers on Petrobras offshore rigs in the Campos basin. They are in the midst of a 5-day work stoppage.

The chief demand of the 1,600 striking Campos employees is that Petrobras pay workers for the day it takes them to travel from the mainland to the offshore rigs. Employees on maritime platforms generally work 15 days and then rest 21 days on land.

Petrobras on July 15 said that, despite the ongoing strike, production was back to normal levels in the Campos basin—the source of 80% of Brazil's crude output. It said contingency teams restored normal operations at the 12 platforms affected by the striking workers.

Union leaders acknowledged that the contingency teams succeeded in resuming production, but they insisted that safety risks were created by the use of fewer and less-experienced workers.

Union officials also said Petrobras is preventing striking workers from leaving the Campos platforms and going ashore, but the company said its transport vessels are running on their usual schedule.

The Campos basin, the epicenter of union complaints, produces 80% of Brazil's total oil production, which now stands at 1.9 million b/d.

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com

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