[SOUTH AMERICA] Oil workres versus PETROBRAS. Brasil

Brazilian oil workers and state oil company Petrobras began talks on Wednesday toward ending a three-day-old strike, a union official said. Negotiations started in the afternoon after the company met a workers' demand and ferry them home from the offshore rigs, said Glauber Barreto, a spokesman, which represents oil workers in the Campos Basin. The region is the source of 80 per cent of Brazil's oil production.

"They are still talking and no one knows when they will end," Barreto said. Petroleo Brasileiro SA confirmed talks had begun.

The oil workers launched a five-day strike on Monday to demand an extra day off for every two-week shift they work on the platforms, noting it takes a full day off to get to the platform and another to get back.

Brazilian refinery workers are planning a two-day work slowdown for Thursday and Friday to support their offshore colleagues and demand a greater share of company profits. Most other Petrobras workers are set to launch a larger, general strike for improved working conditions and profit sharing on August 5, according to National Oil Workers Federation spokeswoman Alessandra Morteira.

Petrobras, one of the world's largest oil companies that pumps an average 1.6 mn barrels of crude a day, said it has enacted a contingency plan to ensure output is not affected by the work stoppage. Analysts say the strikes could contribute to future gains in soaring world oil prices.

"Petrobras respects workers' right to organize and remains open to negotiations," a Petrobras spokesman said, reading an official statement over the telephone. The company said it had submitted a profit-sharing proposal to the unions on July 9, but had received no response. The spokesman declined to give details on that offer.

Petrobras shares fell 1.9 per cent to close at to 39.77 reals (US$25.01) Wednesday on Sao Paulo's Bovespa exchange. The stock is down 3 per cent since the strike began on Monday.

Source: India Economic Times

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