From 25 to 27 February 2014 the Brazilian Oil Workers’ Union FUP hosted a meeting to launch the workers’ network of Petrobras. A global agreement was signed with Petrobras in 2011, and now it is up to the network to make a living agreement.
IndustriALL Director Carol Bruce from the meeting in Rio de Janeiro stated:
FUP and IndustriALL have dreamt of establishing an international Petrobras workers’ network for ten years. Today our dream has come true. Policies need to be established and enacted to make CSR felt at the shop floor level, and not only at company headquarters.
Some 50 workers and trade union representatives attended the meeting from Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Curacao, China, Nigeria and Colombia.
Presentations were made by Petrobras management on CSR and human resources policies. Some attention was paid to gender issues. Women make up 15.8 percent of the workforce at Petrobras. It was felt that since the president of Petrobras is a woman, this helps to break stereotypes and change mentalities. There is a women’s collective within Petrobras which fights for women’s space.
One focus of the meeting was outsourcing and precarious work. Some delegates reported on their experiences. Experiences with other networks were presented such as BASF and Repsol. A presentation was made by DIESSE, which is a department that provides studies and support to trade unions in Brazil. The two participants from Nigeria presented their case which was based on the fact that Petrobras made highly skilled staff redundant with the false argument that it was divesting in Nigeria. “Precarious work is a priority for the new network. Labour relations inside Petrobras are casual, and far too informal,” added IndustriALL’s Carol Bruce.
Ultimately the demand is for Petrobras and IndustriALL to renegotiate and renew the global agreement in order to include some good practices that have been emerging with other agreements. The unions want to make the most of the agreement and work specifically on themes such as discrimination. They would like to ensure that one activity be held every year, whether it be a meeting or a piece of research. All unions in the network are asked to send in their collective agreements with Petrobras in the attempt to create a database. The International Secretary of FUP will be responsible for coordinating this work. The participants felt that if it is possible to coordinate activities in all the countries where Petrobras operates, the network will make a real difference. The trade unions can exchange experiences, explain their doubts and propose solutions with the idea of globalizing rights. The network will be more effective once it is officially recognized by the company. In this way Petrobras can be made really responsible.
Petrobras, 56% owned by the Brazilian government, has 80,500 employees and operates in some 30 countries. The company is a leader in exploration and production of oil, and operates 16 refineries as well as numerous petrochemicals, biofuels, pipelines and other installations.