The importance of the oil workers' strike

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By Gilberto Bercovici*

The importance of this strike lies in the workers' ability to fight in defense of their rights and of Brazil and in raising awareness among the population about the dismantling of the State.

(Originally published on the website shot)

In times of Bolsonarist obscurantism, good news has been the resistance of oil workers and the extension of the national strike that began on February 1, 2020. The reasons that justified the start of the strike were the mass dismissal of Petrobras employees allocated to Fafen ( Fábrica de Fertilizantes Nitrogenados) in Paraná and non-compliance with parts of the Collective Agreement signed between the unions and the company. But, beyond the labor disputes, the strike was organized around something bigger: the defense of Petrobras as a state-owned company that must act for the benefit of the community. This perspective has been abandoned since 2016 and threatened by the accelerated privatization of much of Petrobras' structure promoted by the current government.

It is never too much to remember that Petrobras is the result of one of the greatest popular mobilization campaigns in Brazilian history, the Campaign “O Petróleo é Nosso”. The proposal to create a state company with a monopoly on the oil industry did not come from a cabinet, but from the streets. This company, created by Getúlio Vargas in 1953, had and still has the objective of guaranteeing the national fuel supply and energy security in Brazil. For this, immense amounts of public money were used to finance the structuring and growth of Petrobras, which, in a few decades, consolidated itself as the largest company in the country and one of the largest in the world in its area of ​​operation. As if the size and importance of Petrobras for Brazil were not enough, the state-owned company is also characterized by being the company that most invests in science and technology in Brazil and owns innovative products and technologies that make it stand out in the world oil industry.

All of this public heritage, therefore, of the Brazilian people, has been threatened with the policy of dismantling and selling assets initiated in the second Dilma administration and expanded under Michel Temer and Jair Bolsonaro. This policy delivers portions of Petrobrás' equity to its international competitors at a low price and without competition, burdening the Brazilian people with abusive prices charged for gas, fuel and other essential products. The current national oil workers' strike is a wake-up call against the destruction of this heritage of the Brazilian people.

The oil workers' strike is so important at this moment that the highest levels of the Judiciary, both in the Superior Labor Court and in the Federal Supreme Court, did not hesitate to decide against the constitutional right to strike, expressly guaranteed in article 9 of the 1988 Constitution. Precisely because it transcends labor aspects, the oil workers' strike is so dangerous for the country's current rulers.

This strike is dangerous because it demonstrates that workers can fight in an organized way in defense not only of their interests, but in defense of Brazil.

This strike is dangerous because it seeks to make the population aware of the dismantling that the Brazilian State has been suffering relentlessly in recent years, compromising our future.

This strike is dangerous because it reminds us that Petrobrás is the symbol of national development, that Petrobrás does not belong to its private shareholders, but, on the contrary, that it belongs to the entire Brazilian people and what happens to Petrobrás affects the all of us.

In addition to the disinformation campaign, fake news and lies propagated to defend the policy of privatization and delivery of national heritage by the current government and its supporters in the mainstream press, courts and political system, the national oil workers' strike is a milestone in our history, is a strike in favor of Brazil and Brazilians. And it will be the course of events related to the oil workers' strike that will show us the paths of struggle to guarantee our rights and our future as a free and sovereign country.

*Gilberto Bercovici Professor of Economic Law and Political Economy at the Faculty of Law of USP.

Originally published on the website shot


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