Oil Workers Call Off Petrobras Strike

Oil workers called off a strike scheduled tomorrow at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, Brazil's largest company, opting instead to ask the government to mediate a dispute over an employee profit-sharing plan.

Union leaders want a labor ministry mediator appointed to force Petrobras to negotiate demands to increase profit-sharing payments to 32,000 workers, said Antonio Carrara, a spokesman for the oil workers federation. Under Brazilian law, unions have a right to ask for a labor ministry mediator to break an impasse, he said.

``So far, they are refusing to negotiate, so we are going to the government to bring them to the table,'' said Carrara, whose federation includes all unions at the state-controlled petroleum company.

Workers had planned to walk out for three days, threatening to hamper operations at the world's 12th largest oil company. Petrobras unions staged a one-day strike on May 2 over claims that workers' share of profits hasn't risen as much as dividends paid to shareholders.

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