Brazil’s main oilworkers unions on Friday held a 24-hour strike as part of nationwide protests against the government of interim-President Michel Temer, attacking his oil policies and seeking the return of suspended President Dilma Rousseff.
The strike started just before midnight Thursday. Officials with the union, Sindipetro NF said there was almost no chance it would have an impact on operations at Petroleo Brasileiro SA , or Petrobras.
The union represents workers at Petrobras offshore oil fields responsible for the bulk of Brazilian output.
“There won’t be any oil production stops,” said Tezeu Bezerra, SindipetroNF’s communication director.
Petrobras said in a statement that it was operating normally despite the strike.
Bezerra, though, hopes workers can use this protest to boost support for a bigger strike later against what they believe is Temer’s desire to sell Petrobras and Brazilian resources to foreigners.
They also want the return of leftist Rousseff, who was suspended in May and replaced by Temer for up to 180 days while she faces a trial in the Senate on charges she broke budget laws.
Unions in November staged their biggest strike in 20 years in protest against plans by the Rousseff government to reduce the company’s $130 billion of debt, the largest in the oil industry, by selling up to $15 billion of assets by the end of 2016.
While the sales were announced under Rousseff, only a little more than $1 billion has been sold to date. Temer has appointed a new Petrobras chief executive, Pedro Parente, who is expected to speed up sales.
Despite the nearly three-week strike in November, Petrobras output in the month fell less than 2 percent. Several factors have prevented Brazil’s oil unions from being able to use strikes to win their demands.
Brazilian labor laws require unions to advise companies of future strikes, making it easier for Petrobras to make contingency plans, making it hard for a strike to have significant impact on company production if it lasts less than a week.
Wildcat strikes can also break the law if a walkout is done in a way that jeopardizes safety.
While many Petrobras workers want the company to remain state-controlled, union leaders have demanded 100 percent nationalization of oil and expulsion of foreign oil companies from Brazil.