São Paulo IT workers union threatens strike without 11.9% raises

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

São Paulo state IT workers union SindPD is considering turning to the courts, and ultimately calling for a technology "black out" if employers refuse to meet its demands, the organization's president, Antonio Neto, told BNamericas.

After a round of demonstrations outside the headquarters of leading Brazilian technology companies, such as software developer Totvs and IT services firm Tivit, SindPD will return to the bargaining table this Friday (Feb 25). Negotiations between SindPD and IT employers union Seprosp occur annually and began this year in January.

SindPD, Neto said, will again ask Seprosp for the following concessions: an 11.9% raise in linear wages, new salary floors, profit-sharing plans and daily food subsidies.

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"The sector had a very good year in 2010," Neto said. "There was 10-15% growth for the market, with some companies performing much better than that."

SindPD originally proposed pay raises exceeding 13%, which the union derived by adding inflation expectations to the country's gross domestic product growth rate, Neto added. The association since lowered its figure to 11.9%. Seprosp thus far has offered a 6.47% increase, slightly above the 5.9% inflation rate in 2010. Last year, SindPD accepted a 6% hike.

SindPD also negotiates with businesses individually, Neto said. The union came to an independent agreement in 2010 with Indian conglomerate Tata and hopes to do the same this year.

Totvs, which employs the majority of its 9,000-member staff in Brazil, already provides its employees with benefits such as profit-sharing options and food vouchers, a spokesperson for the company told BNamericas. However, the company shares Seprosp's view on remuneration.

"Totvs supports salary correction using the same rational for adjusting the minimum wage, which preserves buying power without creating inflationary pressure," a Totvs representative said in an email.

Tivit declined to comment on negotiations with SindPD. Seprosp also failed to return repeated calls for comment.

Neto said SindPD would eventually decide whether to petition state judges for analysis and mediation of an accord. Enacting Brazil's first IT work stoppage, or "paralyzing" the sector, would be the union's last recourse.

"You can imagine the impact on business if all software programs were to stop functioning and support were to cease," Neto said.

Nearly 90,000 IT workers at more than 7,800 companies in São Paulo ultimately could be impacted by a settlement between SindPD and Seprosp.