Petrobras In Talks Over Profit Sharing

Petrobras has opened talks on profit distribution with the union leaders that represent the Brazilian oil workers. The union leaders said that a strike would not be called as long as the talks continue. "They accepted a discussion, which means they may change the philosophy of profit distribution," said William Crobo, a director with the Oil Workers' Federation (FUP), after meeting with Petrobras president Francisco Gros. "We next meet Petrobras officials on Monday, so it is unlikely that the union council tomorrow will call any strike or other acts," he added. Petrobras workers, who staged a one-day warning stoppage last week, claim their share of profits from Petrobras is too low, especially since the company has posted higher earnings in each of the past few years. Petrobras has said that the sums paid to workers from corporate profits rose more than 30 percent last year from the prior year. But union leaders argue that their share of profits fell to 7 percent from 11 percent. Corbo said Petrobras would now be working on a counterproposal. A council of oil workers' unions, which groups over 20 organizations, meets on Thursday, and had been expected to decide on whether to call a new strike. Thousands of workers at Petrobras walked out last Thursday and threatened a longer strike. The last nationwide strike of Petrobras workers lasted five days in October 2001 and battered the economy, driving Brazil to import more oil and reducing the country's trade surplus.

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