Gas Natural Fenosa has stated its intention to invest in its Colombian subsidiary, Electricaribe at a meeting in Madrid with IndustriALL affiliate, Sintraelecol.
The president of the Colombian trade union Sintraelecol, Pablo Emilio Santos, and William César Falcón, president of the union’s Sucre region, travelled to Madrid, Spain, for a meeting with Electricaribe’s parent company Gas Natural Fenosa. The aim was to get first-had information about the company’s plans for its workforce.
Electricaribe, an electricity distribution and marketing company that operates in northern Colombia, was privatized in 2000 and bought by the Spanish company Gas Natural Fenosa.
The meeting conducted a full analysis of Sintraelecol’s situation. The union representatives said there was too much subcontracting and too many temporary workers and pointed out that it was costing the company more to employ temporary workers than to employ workers directly. They also highlighted the low levels of investment in technology and said that this contributed to the company’s poor public image.
Gas Natural Fenosa management said the company planned to invest in Electricaribe and maintained that shareholders wanted to develop the subsidiary, as long as the country’s rules are clear enough to ensure the business can be viable.
The company said it wanted measures to reduce arrears in bill payments and fraud and confirmed its commitment to maintain employment levels. However, the Colombian government, through the Superintendency of Residential Public Services, the country’s public utilities regulator, has temporarily taken control of the company.
Finally, the company gave assurances that it is willing to conduct rapid and transparent negotiations that will benefit Electricaribe workers once the government intervention in the company is over.
Diana Junquera, director of IndustriALL’s energy industry sector, said:
“The future of 1,500 workers is at stake because of bad management. Some of them have been working for the company for more than 30 years. It is unacceptable that workers and their families are being made to pay for this injustice. IndustriALL Global Union urges the Colombian government to respect workers' rights and guarantee their jobs, whatever the future holds in store for the company”.
The meeting was also attended by representatives of IndustriALL Global Union and its Spanish affiliates, FICA UGT and CCOO Industry, who played a key role in facilitating the meeting between the company and the unions.