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Repsol Workers’ Network Meets in Spain

1 November, 2010

The steering committee of the Repsol Global Workers’ Network met in Seville, Spain from 16-20 October. It was attended by oil workers’ unions from Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain. There was an 18 October meeting to prepare a session with Repsol management that dealt with industrial policy, health, safety, and environment issues, and subcontracting and outsourcing.

Some of the highlights country reporting included:

  • In Spain, work-time arrangements were ongoing in the wake of the fifth general agreement on working conditions;
  • In Argentina, some work functions were once again in-sourced due to the reorganisation of YPF;
  • In Brazil, new activities are in the pipeline because of the discovery of major offshore reserves;
  • In Colombia, ICEM affiliate Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) is focusing on organizing contract workers. In addition, there is more openness on the part of the government to discuss labour issues. USO scored a victory when workers sacked during a 2004 strike were reinstated. The government is opening new leases for exploration of oil and gas;
  • In Bolivia, employment has become stable due to mobilizations, which led to a consolidation of the situation at YPF.

At the meeting with Repsol management on 19 October, the human resources representatives reported on the new drug and alcohol policy, the impacts on the environment and society of oil activities, new practices in subcontracting, and the future industrial outlook.

With the new subcontracting policy, trade unions are able to participate in the application of the policy in practice, and can follow up on contract workers’ work and employment conditions. The main principle that was stressed was that the workers’ representatives have the right to be consulted, and their proposals must be heard and examined in order for conclusions to be drawn. Regarding the future industrial outlook, the workers’ network expressed a will to be involved in promoting the development of the company. This involvement should be based on regular social dialogue.

The network concluded that it needs to do more work to organise full-time Repsol workers, as well as contract workers who work alongside them. The coordination and mutual flow of information between the unions in Latin America and Spain must be improved. And more regular contact has to be established with Repsol workers in Ecuador, Mexico, Cuba, and Trinidad and Tobago. The next meeting of the network is scheduled to be held in Bolivia in July 2011.