Brazilian Oil Workers Strip Naked to Protest Their Wages

Petrobras protesters get naked in Rio A group of Brazilians, all of them retired and pensioners, got naked today in front of the state-owned oil company Petrobras's headquarters, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, to protest what they call "discriminatory policy" in the company's retirement and pension plans.

Rio's military police monitored the demonstration but did not intervene.

The protesters say that Petrobras for years now has been disregarding its own rules concerning the worker's pension fund when it adopts differentiated wage readjustments for employees still active and those already retired.

The so-called Petros Plan, according to the protesters, establishes that retirees should receive up to 90% of the salary of someone still active. Not only that, to get this right, the oil industry workers pay for it while still working and continue paying for the benefit after going into retirement.

Sindipetro, the union that represents the Petrobras employees is suing the oil company to secure those rights. Sindipetro-RJ (Rio de Janeiro's Oil Industry Workers Union) says it has already sent a letter to Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, denouncing the situation and promises to file charges with the Public Prosecutor's Office asking that it intervene in the case.

While about a dozen only stripped naked the manifestation counted on about 300 people. They also buried in effigy Sérgio Gabrielli, the president of Petrobras.

After the demonstration, the retirees and pensioners were received by representatives of Petrobras to discuss their claims. If their demands are not met, the retirees vow to stage a new protest on November 6.

The oil workers union's general secretary, Emanuel Cancella, explained that the Petros plan assures retirees 90% of what they would get if they were still working. Cancella also said that starting with the Fernando Henrique Cardoso's administration, which went from 1995 to 2002, Petrobras started to disrespect the contracts and offering wage hikes and specials bonuses that benefited only those still on the job.

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