Brazil’s bank employees have gone on strike just five days before the national elections.
The Latin American Herald Tribune reports that most banks in the nation’s largest cities were closed for business on Tuesday, September 30, the first day of the strike.
The bankers’ trade association and CONTRAF-CUT, the workers’ union, have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement, but the negotiations have failed to produce an agreement.
Bank workers are demanding a wage increase that would exceed cost of living increases by 5.4 percent. The bankers are only will to give a raise that is 0.61 percent more than a cost of living increase.
The union is also seeking to increase the minimum wage for bank employees to four times higher than the national minimum wage.
Last year, a 23-day strike by private sector bank employees won an 8 percent pay increase.
CONTRAF-CUT said that despite last year’s raise, Brazil’s banks still managed to make record profits.
Brazil’s six largest banks in 2013 collectively reported profits of $23.6 billion.
“Banks in Brazil continue to have the highest profitability ratios in the international financial system,” said Carlos Cordeiro, president of CONTRAF-CUT in a translated statement about the strike. “But banks give high value to executives and refuse to listen to our demands.”