Brazil Trucker Strike Eases Just as Oil Union Threatens Walkout
BloombergMay 27, 2018
Truck drivers block the Regis Bittencourt road, 30 km from Sao Paulo, on May 26, 2018 during a strike to protest rising fuel costs in Brazil that has left much of the country paralyzed. – Brazil’s government raised the stakes in its tense standoff with striking truckers Friday, ordering troops onto the streets to clear the huge blockades. The country’s economic capital of Sao Paulo declared a state of emergency, the auto industry shut down, gas stations ran out of fuel and dozens of flights were canceled on the fifth day of the protest Friday. (Photo by Nelson ALMEIDA / AFP) (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Brazil’s embattled president may find little reprieve as striking truckers loosen their grip on the nation’s roadways in their seventh day of fuel-price protests: an oil workers union plans its own walkout later this week.
President Michel Temer is meeting Sunday with ministers in the nation’s capital in an effort to end the strike, which newspaper Valor Economico estimates cost Latin America’s largest economy more than 9.5 billion reais ($2.6 billion) during its first five days.
Most roadblocks have at least partially opened, with several trucks moving to the shoulder to let passenger cars pass freely. The governor of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous state, on Saturday night negotiated a deal with truckers’ representatives to remove blockades from the state’s roads until May 29. Early Sunday, the governor also guaranteed the provisioning of essential services.
Police escorts are helping tanker trucks reach key fuel depots and gas stations after some people chose to sleep in their cars, sometimes waiting more than 12 hours in line for fuel. While delivery of essential medical supplies is improving, supermarkets still face shortages of perishables such as fruit, vegetables and eggs. The meat producers association ABPA said poultry growers have lost 50 million birds.
Even if Temer is successful in delivering concessions to the strike Sunday, he may have little time to celebrate. Late Saturday night, a Petrobras oil workers union said it would launch a 72-hour strike starting on May 30, making demands that include lower fuel prices and the removal of Chief Executive Officer Pedro Parente.
Petrobras didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. On Friday, the company’s press office said Parente has no intention of resigning amid a flurry of criticism regarding his approach to managing fuel price policy at the state-run oil company.