Varig Employees Urge Brazilian President to Keep Bankrupt Airline Flying

A group representing Brazilian Varig Airline employees, accompanied by ten members of Congress, delivered a document at the Palácio do Planalto, the presidential office, in which they ask president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for three things.

The document was signed by the Varig Group Employees (Trabalhadores do Grupo Varig) (TGV), which represents four worker associations and unions. Varig, the Brazilian air carrier, is going through a severe financial crisis.

The TGV asked Lula to: first, postpone airport tax payments for five months; second, give the firm two-month grace period to pay for fuel. Both these payments are to Brazilian state-run organizations: Infraero and Petrobras, respectively.

Finally, TGV requested authorization to use money (some US$ 150 million) from the Varig pension fund to keep the company afloat.

Márcio Marsiolac, coordinator of TGV and the vice leader of the government in the Chamber of Deputies, deputy Beto Albuquerque (PSB party, Rio Grande do Sul state), both pointed out that the government, as the main creditor, in a company that is now being administrated by its creditors, should not permit it to fail.

"We will not stand by and let Varig die," said Marsiolac. Albuquerque said it was absurd that the government, the biggest Varig creditor, will be, in the end, responsible for its bankruptcy.

ABr

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