Society

Workers at Brazil's Postal Service decided to go on national strike amid the COVID-19 pandemic

A Brazilian Supreme Court decision suspended the current labor rules. At the same time, the board of the state-owned company wants to cut benefits and reduce costs

Postman working during the pandemic in Rio
Postman working during the pandemic in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Fernando Frazão / Agência Brasil.
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  • The Court’s final assessment of the issue began on Monday;
  • Going on strike before the final decision makes sense as a way of putting pressure on the Court and the state-owned company directors.

The nearly 90,000 workers at the Brazilian Postal Service, known as Correios, decided to start a national strike amid the COVID-19 pandemic, starting this Tuesday. By 8:30 pm, 80% of the 36 unions that make up the company’s worker’s union federation, Fentect, had already held assemblies, approving the beginning of the strike.

As LABS has shown in the past weeks, Correios is the first major state-owned company to enter the wage negotiation phase this year. In November last year, the Minister of the Supreme Federal Court (STF) Dias Toffoli decided, preliminarily, to suspend the current normative sentence (which happens when the judiciary has to decide on a collective agreement negotiation) that governs the relationship between the company and its workers.

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The workers ask for the reinstatement of the current normative sentence, which would be valid until 2021, and the maintenance of the 79 labor clauses in the document, such as 180-day maternity leave, payment of nightly premium, overtime, death indemnity, daycare assistance, among others.

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The Court’s final judgment on the matter began on Monday and must end by the 21st – in this pandemic period, the STF’s bylaws say that the trials, made virtually, must take place within 5 business days. Striking before the final decision makes sense as a way of putting pressure on the Court and the leaders of the state company.

According to the worker’s union federation, about 60,000 employees may stop working. To the local press, Correios said that there is a contingency plan to ensure the continuity of activities.