Petrobras workers in Brazil end three-week strike

Workers at Brazil’s state-owned oil giant Petrobras have ended a strike of nearly three weeks that left the firm scrambling to avoid a drop in production, labor unions said Friday.

Around 21,000 workers — a third of the total workforce — joined the mass walk-out at the start of the month.

They were protesting the closure of subsidiary ANSA’s decision to close a fertilizer plant in the southern state of Parana, with around 1,000 total layoffs.

The company met with employee representatives after an arbitration hearing called by a labor court in the capital Brasilia, after which the oil workers’ union FUP announced an end to the strike.

“An attempt will be made to increase financial compensation for the dismissed,” the court said.

The court had earlier ruled that the strike was illegal and set a daily fine of up to $115,000 for unioins that did not comply with a return to work. 

Petrobras said the strike did not affect production thanks to the hiring of outsourced labor.

The company announced a record net profit of $10.2 billion for 2019 earlier this week, an on-year jump of more than 55 percent.

It was the second straight year of profit for Petrobras, which had spent the three previous years deep in the red.

The firm is still recovering from the scandal triggered by “Operation Car Wash,” a sweeping probe launched in 2014 that uncovered widespread corruption in which the company was essentially plundered by politicians and business executives.