Brazil’s Post and Telegraph Company (ECT) was due in court again this afternoon to present its case for a new collective bargaining agreement to an arbitrator for a final decision.
After nearly a month of strike action, the new deal for about two thirds of the 110,000-strong work force is set to be decided by the judge Mauricio Godinho Delgado.
Today’s arbitration hearing comes after a deal was reached in conciliation last week between ECT and the national postal union, Fentect, only to be subsequently rejected by a majority of Brazil’s regional postal unions.
And, it follows a fresh proposal put forward by the Superior Labour Court Chief Justice, Minister John Oreste Dalazen, on Friday, which was supported by ECT but then rejected by the union representatives.
The latest deal on the table was for a 6.87% pay rise retroactive to August 2011, along with a linear R$60 ($34 USD) per month increase from January, and a R$800 bonus ($456 USD).
A decision is now expected from the Superior Labour Court today, with the trial due to start at 4pm local time.
The unions have been warned that under Brazilian law, a strike suspends an employment contract, and as a result the final court decision on a contract could leave striking workers with no pay for the 26 days they have been on strike so far.
ECT has been running a special national task force of administrative staff and overtime workers each weekend since the strike action began on September 14, in order to catch up on mail backlogs.
In the four weekends, the task force has so far delivered around 47m letters and parcels across the country, while sorting 96m ready for delivery during the week.
The latest weekend has seen the best effort yet, with 22m items delivered and 27m processed on Saturday and Sunday.
The ECT president, Wagner Pinheiro de Oliviera, visited staff in Rio de Janeiro at the weekend to add his support. He said yesterday: “The professionalism shown by employees reinforces our conviction that we must remain steadfast in the mission to strengthen and enhance the public asset that is the Post Office.”