By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Bank agencies have gone on an indefinite strike all over Brazil on Thursday, September 19th. Overall more than 460,000 bank employees lay down their work as 6,145 agencies remained closed, although so far ATMs have stayed open.
The employees of countrywide bank agencies went on strike after negotiations for wage increases had failed, according to the National Confederation of Employees in the Financial Branch (CONTRAF).
The strike affected large urban centers in the country, as bank branches of all major banks were closed in most big cities in Brazil. In São Paulo, over 500 agencies were closed according to the banking union in the state. In Rio’s metropolitan region, around 1,000 branches shut down, though the strike affected banks primarily located in Centro, where seventy percent of all banks remained closed.
The National Federation of Banks (Fenaban), on the other side, complained that the union leaders had created their own calendar for the outbreak of the strike, regardless of negotiations.
The federation had proposed to increase wages by 6.1 percent, which was rejected by the bank employees, as only covering this year’s inflation. They demand an increase of 11.93 percent and bonuses of up to three salaries, whereas Fenaban only offered a fixed R$ 1,633.94 plus ninety percent of the wage.
“The banks claim they cannot meet our demands, because of the slow economic growth. But the banking industry is one of the most profitable in the country and had a profit in the first half of the year of almost R$30 billion,” Juvandia Moreira of the São Paulo banking union told O Globo.
In late September 2011 the bank workers held their last major national strike action, which paralyzed over forty percent of Brazil’s banks. That was the biggest in the last twenty years, according to Contraf (National Confederation of Banking Sector Workers union).
The fact that bank agencies are on strike will not relieve customers from paying their bills on time and customers are advised to look for alternative ways to complete their duties, such as online banking.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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