Postal workers in Brazil ended their month-long strike last week emerging more united and determined to battle against privatization of the post office.
It follows a ruling by the Supreme Labour Court on 21 September that gave workers a 2.6 per cent pay rise but led to certain benefits being withdrawn.
The dispute went to court after the Brazilian postal service, Correios, refused to honour its collective agreement with UNI Global Union affiliates Fentect and Findect. The state-owned company wanted to remove 70 benefits normally granted to workers.
The judge ruled that the strike was not abusive and workers will be paid 50 per cent of their salaries during the strike period. While 29 benefits were maintained, including medical and dental assistance, vacation pay was reduced and maternity leave was cut from 180 to 120 days.
The rapporteur for the case, Minister Kátia Arruda, argued for all the benefits to be maintained and pointed out that Correios was claiming financial reasons for the cuts, even though the company has increased profits during the pandemic.
Minister Arruda said it was the first time that she saw a company propose the removal of all clauses and rights. She also criticized the refusal of Correios to accept agreements previously proposed by the Labour Court:
“There was a patent negative conduct to negotiate on the part of the company. I, in my 30 years in the Labour Court, have never experienced such conduct,” she said.
However, the judge also conceded to the arguments brought by Minister Ives Gandra Filho, who is backed by President Bolsonaro. The Brazilian president is intent on privatizing the post office as quickly as possible.
UNI affiliates showed their solidarity for postal workers in Brazil by supporting a global day of action organized by unions on the day of the court ruling.
Marcio Monzane, Regional Secretary for UNI Americas, said:
“Postal workers in Brazil faced an extremely hostile environment during the negotiations for their collective agreement, but they put up a very strong fight, including a long strike, and they are back to work stronger, united and ready to face the challenge of privatization. We will back them all the way.”