NATIONAL STRIKE

Brazil: oil workers start strike against Petrobras management this Wednesday

They demand the resignation of CEO Pedro Parente, whom they accuse of trying to privatize the company and rising prices

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Pedro Parente was selected by the coupist Michel Temer to apply its policies of devaluing and privatizing Petrobras / Rogério Melo/PR

This Wednesday, Brazil’s oil workers started a “warning strike”. According to José Maria Rangel, coordinator of the Unified Federation of Oil Workers (Federação Única dos Petroleiros – FUP), the strike is a warning to the “mistaken policies of the current administration” regarding oil and its byproducts. The strike happens in the context of the truck drivers nationwide strike, which started May 21st.

They expect that the strike - that should involve refineries, platformas and oil terminals -  to last at least 72 hours. By the end of the day, FUP should release a statement with the results of the mobilization.

They are demanding the reduction of the price of diesel oil, of gasoline and of  LP gas, that have been rising steadily since Pedro Parente was named president of the state-owned company Petrobras, in October, 2016.

Rangel states that the main reason for the increases on the prices of the oil byproducts came along with the decision to attach the domestic pricing to the international, which made Petrobras less competitive - since it has the capacity to refine oil for a cheaper value than what foreign companies do.

Below capacity

“This policy causes Petrobras to export raw oil and import its byproducts with added value. We have all the oil we need. We want to upend the process of privatization of the company. If it moves forward, the Brazilian people will pay even more for the products. We also want Pedro Parente out of the company, since he has already caused the blackouts”, said Rangel.

Rangel is making a reference to the 2000’s energy blackouts and crisis, when Parente was minister of Mining and Energy, in Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government.

Petrobras has already announced its intention of selling four refineries, and since 2016, the company is working below its optimal capacity.

“Almost 30% of our need for oil byproducts is being supplied by international companies. At the same time, they have diminished the production load on the refineries”, said Alexandre Castilho, of the Oil Worker’s Union of São Paulo.

Support

Two of the largest Brazilian people's fronts, the Frente Brasil Popular and Frente Povo Sem Medo, have come together with the oil workers' this Wednesday.

“While Temer and its accomplices have acted in order to deliver Petrobras to multinational corporations, deepening the problem of the price of LP gas and gasoline, we say that Petrobras belongs to us. It’s our people’s treasure and we will defend it”, says the document co-signed by the two entities.

“It is clear to us that the chaos that our country is experiencing is directly linked to the lack of democracy and to an illegitimate government that has turned its back to the people”, they added.

Parente strikes back

Attending a petition made by the head of Petrobras and by the Federal Attorney’s Office, the justice Maria de Assis Calsing, of the Superior Court of Labor, has granted an injunction that forbids the strike.

The decision was published this Tuesday (29). The penalty for striking should be of 500,00 R$ [equivalent to 133,000 US$], per day.

Edition: Pilar Troya