RIO DE JANEIRO – One year after they stopped working for 23 days, Brazil’s bank employees went on strike Tuesday again demanding better wages and working conditions, the National Confederation of Financial Sector Employees (Contraf) said.
Contraf, representing almost 90 percent of the 511,000 bank employees in the world’s 7th-largest economy, said the strike will continue until the workers’ demands are met.
Union members approved the strike weeks ago but decided to start five days before Brazil’s presidential election to increase their leverage.
“Regional union assemblies in all of Brazil’s states voted for the strike and it began with great support, but we still don’t know how many branches didn’t open today,” a Contraf spokesman told Efe.
Most bank offices in the country’s largest cities were closed Tuesday, their doors and facades covered with union posters explaining the reasons for the strike.
Contraf is demanding a 12.5 percent salary raise, compared to the 7.35 percent increase proposed by the Brazilian Banking Federation, and a minimum monthly wage of 2,980 reais (about $1,241.70), or four times higher than the national minimum wage.
The unions also demand job security, the elimination of what they call “abusive production goals” applied by some banks, a campaign against “moral harassment,” and investments in security to reduce the number of bank robberies.
Last year, a strike obtained an 8 percent salary increase for bank employees, less than what they wanted but more than what employers had proposed.
According to the unions, Brazil’s six largest banks had record profits of 56.7 billion reais ($23.62 billion) last year, in part, by layoffs and by hiring new employees with lower salaries.