Workers at Brazil stats body IBGE go on strike; GDP on schedule

RIO DE JANEIRO Mon May 26, 2014 12:38pm EDT

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RIO DE JANEIRO May 26 (Reuters) - Workers at Brazil's statistics agency, IBGE, went on strike on Monday for better pay and benefits, an action that could hinder research for many economic indicators but will not affect the release of gross domestic product data later this week.

The strike is one of a wave of labor disputes that have disrupted everything from bus service to routine police work in recent weeks and that some fear could cause delays and disruptions when Brazil hosts the soccer World Cup next month.

Consumer price indexes, unemployment rates, industrial output and retail sales are among the many economic indicators put together by IBGE and used exhaustively by investors, government officials and lawmakers.

"There are surveys that are ready and will be released," said union leader Suzana Drumond in a reference to first-quarter GDP data, due out on Friday.

"The ones after might be halted."

Last year, another strike at IBGE delayed the release of the June jobless rate.

Drumond said that a large number of data collectors are currently working under temporary contracts, and nearly half of IBGE's more than-10,000 workers are hired through third-party companies.

A spokesperson at IBGE confirmed the strike but was unable to verify how many employees were off work.

A new employment survey to be adopted next year has also stirred controversy recently. Many IBGE directors threatened to quit in April after senators asked the survey to be postponed and suggested methodological improvements.

Friday's GDP numbers will probably show that Brazil's economic growth slowed to a near halt, in a blow to President Dilma Rousseff's re-election hopes. (Reporting by Rodrigo Viga Gaier; Writing by Silvio Cascione; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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