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Colombia: Cepcolsa and Termotécnica refuse to negotiate with USO

12 September, 2012The Colombian oil industry workers’ union, which is negotiating on behalf of contract workers who provide services to Cepcolsa, says it will take action against two companies that refuse to negotiate and that have been ill-treating the workers for a long time.

The Colombian oil industry workers’ union (Unión Sindical Obrera, USO), which is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, has denounced anti-trade union practices and violations of ILO Conventions 87 and 98 while negotiating on behalf of contract workers who are employed by Termotécnica Coindustrial S.A. and who provide services at Cepcolsa, a subsidiary of CEPSA España and partner of ECOPETROL S.A.

Both companies are refusing to discuss the workers’ list of demands with USO. The union has denounced the companies to the Ministry of Labour and other oil industry organisations and said it will begin to take action against the two companies, which have been ill-treating their workers for a long time.

The dispute began in June 2011 when contract workers employed by Montajes JM who were working at Cepcolsa went on strike. The two companies refused to negotiate and the contractor cancelled the contract. One year later, Termotécnica employees at Cepcolsa went on strike. The outcome of the dispute was not positive as a result of the unequal conditions in which negotiations took place. In addition to not complying with a previous agreement, company managers ill-treated the workers.

In this context, Termotécnica employees at Cepcolsa  declared themselves to be in Permanent Assembly on August 13 this year. They are calling on the company to fulfil its obligations and consider their just complaints. Faced with the company’s intransigence, the workers turned to USO and asked it to negotiate on their behalf, as from August 14 this year.

On August 27, the Ministry of Labour convened a meeting with representatives of the two companies, USO, the town council and workers’ delegates to discuss the situation. However, this attempt at mediation failed because the companies insisted they would not negotiate with USO and would only negotiate directly with the workers about what they described as their list of complaints.

USO said that the companies’ refusal to negotiate with it contravenes a basic right enshrined in articles 38 and 39 of the country’s constitution as well as in ILO Conventions. The union has taken legal action, lodging a formal complaint with both the Ministry of Labour and the Public Prosecutor’s Office on the grounds that the companies have violated Article 200 of the Penal Code. Finally, USO is calling on the entire community, workers, peasants, indigenous people, unemployed and all national and international social movements to demand a positive response to the workers’ just demands.

IndustriALL Global Union extends its solidarity to the contract workers who are demanding improved working conditions and supports USO, a union that seeks to promote the welfare of the workers and helps to fight precarious work in Colombia.