By JEFF FICK
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazilian oil workers will vote to approve
a five-day strike at state-run energy company Petroleo
Brasileiro, or Petrobras, that would likely interrupt oil
production at the company, a union official said Friday.
The strike is tentatively scheduled to start Feb. 20, said
Joao Antonio de Moraes, general coordinator for the Brazilian
Oil Workers Federation, or FUP. FUP is an umbrella union
representing about two-thirds of Petrobras's 80,000
If approved, the strike would come at a delicate time for
Petrobras. Petrobras has struggled with flagging crude-oil
production over the past year because of declining recovery
rates at mature fields and maintenance shutdowns at ageing
The company's finances have also been stretched because of
heavy imports of gasoline and diesel fuel that the company is
forced to sell at a loss in the domestic market.
Petrobras reports fourth-quarter earnings results Monday,
with year-on-year net profits expected to rise about 20%. The
company's full-year profit, however, is expected to be the
worst in nearly a decade.
Workers are protesting Petrobras's latest profit-sharing
offer, which the union contends short-changes workers to the
benefit of shareholders. Workers could accept a lower slice of
Petrobras's profits if the company also reduced dividends paid
to shareholders, Mr. Moraes said.
"The negotiations are very difficult" this year, the union
chief added. While FUP has sought out further negotiations with
Petrobras and the government, nothing has been scheduled so
far, Mr. Moraes said.
Petrobras said that it used the same criteria for its
profit-sharing proposal as previous years. "The company remains
open to negotiations with labor groups so that all parties may
come to an understanding," Petrobras said in an email.
The broader strike would follow a 24-hour "warning" strike
held Monday. Workers declined to change shifts at refineries
and terminals, while workers at offshore platforms only
performed routine duties. The strike did not aim to affect
production, union officials said.
That's not the case this time around, Mr. Moraes said. "It's
safe to say that production will be affected by a strike
lasting five days," Mr. Moraes said.
The last major strike at Petrobras took place in July 2008,
when oil workers walked off the job for five days to protest
work issues and profit-sharing proposals. The strike cost
Petrobras about 63,000 bpd of crude oil production.
Dow Jones Newswires