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Energy

Eletrobras workers to strike if privatization is put to Senate vote, says union leader

2 minute read

The logo for Eletrobras, a Brazilian electric utilities company, is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

SAO PAULO, June 10 (Reuters) - Workers at Brazilian state-owned energy giant Eletrobras (ELET6.SA) will strike for 72 hours if a government bill to privatize the company is put to a Senate vote next week, a union leader told Reuters on Thursday.

A presidential decree paving the way for the privatization of Eletrobras was passed by the Lower House in May, and must now be deliberated by senators in the upper chamber before June 22 if it is to be kept on the congressional docket.

"We have already held a meeting to discuss a 72-hour strike ... if Congress, the Senate, puts the (decree) on its agenda next week," said Emanuel Mendes Torres, a director of the Rio de Janeiro energy workers union Sintergia.

The shutdown would not affect power generation, which is under pressure due to a nationwide drought that has hit Brazil's hydro plants, but could hamper maintenance activities and ultimately pose risks to the system, he said.

Senator Marcos Rogerio, the privatization bill's coordinator in the upper house, said on Wednesday that he intends to put the topic up for debate and a possible vote next week, perhaps as early as Tuesday.

"If they put it (on the Senate agenda) on Tuesday, we will call the strike," Torres said, adding that support from workers was strong due to the scale of opposition to privatization. Eletrobras has more than 12,000 employees.

The government has said it hopes the sale of state-run Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, as the company is formally known, will deliver 25 billion reais ($4.9 billion) to Treasury coffers.

($1 = 5.08 reais)

Reporting by Luciano Costa Writing by Jamie McGeever Editing by Marguerita Choy

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