[Brazil] Oil Strike Continues Into Its Second Week

14 FEB 2020

Despite local labour court rulings classifying the work action as politically motivated and ordering contingency crews to report for work, an indefinite strike by oil workers in Brazil is ongoing, Argus Media reports.

On February 7, Petrobras said it had begun hiring replacement workers and services on an emergency basis, as allowed by a February 6 superior labour court decision.

A statement from the state-controlled company said, 'The units are operating under appropriate conditions, with reinforcement contingency teams when necessary, and there is no impact on production so far.'

FUP - the federal oil workers union - urged retired workers to resist responding to the hiring call and reportedly accused replacement workers of betraying the cause of defending Petrobras.

According to the FUP, the current strike has the momentum of a 32-day work action in 1995. It reports that 92 units across 13 states are participating in the strike, which began on February 1. Around 20,000 workers at 40 platforms - most in the Campos basin - 11 refineries, and 3 natural gas treatment units are among the installations participating, the union said.

Under Brazilian labour law, during labour strikes a minimum number of workers must maintain activity in high-risk operations, including refineries.

It is the union’s contention that the government is using piecemeal divestments as a means to privatise. The government and Petrobras are selling off assets, however, Brasilia maintains that Petrobras will remain in state hands.

Additionally, workers say that Petrobras is in violation of a 2019 collective bargaining agreement with its mid-January suspension of operations at the Fafen-PA fertilizer plant. An action which they contend resulted in the firing of around 900 employees.

It is not yet known whether the strike has impacted private-sector oil producers like Shell and Equinor.