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Unions admit possibility of salary cuts

Bnamericas Published: Friday, January 09, 2009
Two Brazilian metalworkers and mineworkers unions admit they may accept salary reductions in order to avoid job losses, according to São Paulo paper Jornal da Tarde. In December, Brazilian mining giant Vale's (NYSE: RIO) president Roger Agnelli proposed wage reductions that at the time were vehemently opposed by labor unions. One labor organization admitting a possible reduction in salaries is Força Sindical, which is open to negotiations as an emergency measure, according to the paper. "The important thing is to retain jobs," said Força Sindical secretary João Carlos Gonçalves. "All possibilities must be discussed. Salary reductions cannot become a rule, though. Each sector is in a different situation." However, Central Única dos Trabalhadores (CUT), one of the country's largest unions, remains against wage cuts. "Companies had great profit margins in 2008 and it's not right to punish workers for the economic crisis," said Quintino Severo, CUT's metalworkers union secretary. Meanwhile, Ricardo Patah, president of the União Geral dos Trabalhadores (UGT) union, said unions should be open to bargaining but admits that to give up on certain rights could frighten members. Patah said unions have to be able to convey the message in a correct manner. "We are not sure how workers will react to salary reduction proposals," said Patah. "It's going to seem kind of strange for them, a sudden change of stance from a union's point of view."

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