São Paulo techies up in arms over pay review

IT professionals want a share of employers' profits and other benefits; employers try to bargain

The yearly negotiations between the São Paulo IT workers union (Sinpdpd) and the technology employers body (Seprosp) around pay and benefits have reached its third round this week and the parties have yet to reach an agreement.

Workers union Sindpd presented a list of seven demands including a pay rise for sector professionals of 9.3 percent, plus daily meal subsidies of R$17 ($7), maternity leave of 180 days, contributions towards private healthcare cover and profit share plans for every IT company in the state of São Paulo.

Seprosp, the union that represents the IT employers, has offered a pay rise of 6.2 percent, daily meal subsidies of R$14 ($5,80) for companies that employ more than 50 staff and profit sharing plans for companies with more than 30 employees.

"Profits need to be shared with employees, but it seems that employers don't want to agree on that. Their current proposal is far below what workers need and deserve. We want meal subsidies and profit sharing plans for all and greater involvement of companies in the payment of private healthcare," says Antonio Neto, president at workers union Sindpd.

"Companies are able to address these issues. We will not accept an agreement that does not foresee the participation of workers in that industry growth in corporate profitability," the union boss adds.

The state of São Paulo concentrates the largest concentration of tech companies and Seprosp members include multinationals such as SAP, Capgemini, Indra, Logica and other large local firms such as Stefanini, Totvs, Tivit and CPM Braxis.

Initially, the expectation of main IT trade body in Brazil, the Brazilian Association of Information and Communication Technology had been that IT company revenues in Brazil would see an increase between 12 and 14 percent, but Brasscom president Antonio Gil has been quoted in December as saying that the 2013 percentage would not surpass 10 percent.

The head of IT employers union Seprosp, Luigi Nese, argues that both unions have already agreed on many points over the years - meal subsidies, for example, have been introduced as workers' rights three years ago and are standard practice in the majority of industry sectors in Brazil - but some demands are harder to meet.

"Meal subsidies is something that is quite expensive for a small company, which is why we agree that only companies with over 50 staff should pay it," says Nese.

Despite the fact that the yearly negotiations between both unions are never straightforward , Nese agrees that those discussions are crucial for IT companies and employees.

"It is very important that we have common rules that have to be followed by all companies. Just like a company would do its yearly financial planning, we also review our agreements, taking the inflation, sector performance and other factors into consideration," he says.

Another round of negotiations should take place tomorrow (31). According to Nese, the possibility of another strike threat such as the one that occurred in 2011 is remote.

"[The strike of 2011] was to do with political conflicts, much more than economic motivations," the union head says.