Brazil’s postal workers go on strike in 23 regions
Postal workers in 23 regions of Brazil went on strike last night (18 September), according to union umbrella group Fentect. The strike action over demands for more pay began as Brazil Post was due to meet with Fentect today, at a conciliation meeting at the country’s Superior Labour Court (TST).
Postal workers in two regions – Minas Gerais and Pará – have been on strike for a week, but 35 union groups voted yesterday to join them, threatening services in 18 states and the Federal District. More regional unions are set to vote on possible strike action later this week, Fentect said.
Fentect claimed more than 84% of postal workers are backing a nationwide strike. The unions are demanding a 10% real-terms wage increase and immediate hiring of 30,000 workers to relieve the strain on the work force.
Brazil Post, which was due to start the conciliation meeting this morning at 10.30 local time, repeated past promises yesterday that in the case of a work stoppage, it had contingency plans in place to ensure postal services can continue.
This includes moving administrative staff to cover where necessary, the hiring of temporary workers, extension of overtime and the planned sorting and delivery of letters and parcels at the weekend.
The company stated again that it was offering a 5.2% increase in pay for its 120,000 employees along with various benefits, and that in the last nine years postal salaries have increased 35% in real terms.
In a statement to the media, Brazil Post said if it met the demands of the unions, its annual labour costs would be BRL 25bn ($12.4bn USD) compared to the BRL 15bn ($7.41bn USD) forecast for the company’s 2012 revenue total.
It said the company was currently working to improve healthcare arrangements for employees to reduce red tape without affecting the quality of services, and that after hiring 10,000 more workers in the last 21 months, it is also recruiting 9,904 more staff by April 2013.
Brazil Post and Fentect had been negotiating a labour deal since July.
The Post failed last week to obtain a court injunction to prevent strike action before conciliation could be completed at the TST. Today the TST confirmed that the conciliation meeting has been taking place, but was suspended while both sides examined the proposal from TST judge Cristina Peduzzi based on a 5.2% wage increase similar to Brazil Post’s proposal.
Brazil is also suffering a nationwide strike by bank staff at the moment, action that also began yesterday.