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20 Nov, Tuesday
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Lame response from Agencia Nacional do Petroleo

I FINALLY got a response yesterday from the Agencia Nacional de Petroleo, Gas Natural e Biocombustiveis about the Texaco gasoline station in the Lago Sul, where I had filled up my car with Techron Plus fuel that later may have given my car’s engine trouble. It was a lame and bureacratic response from their consumer relations unit that informed me that they could NOT share the reasons why they had temporarily closed down that station in 2007, as they only share such information with other government departments (i.e. police, public prosecutors, the fire department and Procon, the consumer watchdog group).

But the ANP did stress in their letter to me that the list they maintain on their website of fuel stations that were shut down for poor quality fuel, should serve as a reminder of the “presumption of culpability” of those fuel distributors even if they have not been found guilty in a court of law. They also said that the public announcement of stations that have committed infractions serves the purpose of alerting the public to such stations and of hopefully inhibiting future infractions.

I still think the public has the right to know specifically what a station was closed down for, and when the ANP did its latest inspection of stations. That would be more helpful than just knowing that a station was closed down on a certain date. The more information we consumers have, the better decisions we can make.

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In an interesting side note, I also found out recently that the Union of Workers in the Commerce of Minerals and Petroleum Derivatives in the Federal District (Sindicato dos Trabalhadores no Comercio de Minerios e Derivados de Petroleo no Distrito Federal), sent out a warning letter to its members dated April 23, 2010, warning them that some Gasol gasoline station owners are forcing their workers to work overtime without paying them extra. The union claims that owners of the these stations are making workers use the swipe cards of other collegues to activate gas pumps, and then sometimes turning around and using this fact against the workers to fire them.

The union asked its members to immediately contact them if they are asked to work extra hours and use the swipe cards of colleagues. They said that in one week alone in April, 12 gas station employees were fired by Gasol, who claimed it was for just cause after they used the swipe cards of colleagues.

Brazil has tough labor laws that make it quite difficult to fire workers once they are full-time. But forcing workers to use the swipe cards of colleagues, so that they do not have to pay them overtime, and then turning around and using that to fire them, is beyond ugly. It’s just vile!