by Allanah Leahy – EM TV Online
Tens of thousands of Brazilian employees have lost their jobs amidst an ongoing multi-billion corruption scandal involving semi-public state oil company, Petrobas.
The investigation, labelled Operation Carwash, was initiated early last year but has deepened in recent months.
Operation Carwash has intensified in recent months, with key infrastructure projects put on hold or scrapped, as Brazil’s biggest company goes under the microscope. Petrobas saw a wave of job losses since November, following investigations into price-fixing, bribery and political kickbacks.
“There was a chain reaction. If the large companies on top are not employing, those which are below them and which offer services to Petrobas end up not making any profits and stop buying from the companies below them, which then affects the micro-businesses and the individual,” said Antonio Gondim, President of the Association of Commerce and Industry,Macae.
Petrobas cancelled two refineries worth over a combined K27 billion. One of these is Comperj, a fertiliser plant, which went from 17,000 workers last December to 3,000.
“They reduced the volume of their workers, and we weren’t expecting to lose our jobs, which means that many of us had bought things which are now very difficult to pay off, and to pay taxes too. I was paying everything exactly right and now I am in big problems again. Even if we take odd jobs, it is not something you can count on,” said Ivanilda Costa de Souza, who is currently unemployed.
The repercussions were felt after Operation Carwash prompted Petrobas to put 23 suppliers, which include some of Brazil’s biggest construction firms, on a payment blacklist.
The firms are some of Brazil’s most active in the construction of ports, highways, stadiums and other facilities for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Political parties and politicians also reportedly received kickbacks on inflated contracts from other state-run companies.
“Having to leave is very complicated as I don’t see it as the company’s doing. For me, this comes from what went on in Brasilia, where a lot (of money) was stolen. They wound up with no money so they started taking ours, and then what happened, there was nowhere left for them to take money from so now they are taking it from the workers,” said Elias Brasil da Silva, a former Comperj employee.
There are now concerns that the probe will delay the completion of infrastructure needed to stave off electricity shortages.