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Ecopetrol unfairly dismisses union leaders in Colombia

24 January, 2019Colombia's state-owned oil company, Ecopetrol, has unfairly dismissed Enrique Rodríguez, Joaquín Padilla and Wilmer Hernández, leaders of Colombian oil workers’ union, USO, which is affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union. 

USO'snational executive committee called the dismissals a flagrant violation of the current collective bargaining agreement. It also condemned the company’s attempts to use the unilateral guidelines on the dismissal of Ecopetrol workers to fire Ariel Corzo and Edwin Castaño, who are also members of the national executive committee.

The dismissals are part of a policy of criminalizing union work in Colombia, resulting in disciplinary, criminal and administrative proceedings against union leaders across all sectors nationwide.

The union says that both company management and the Colombian government systematically undermine union workers, in violation of both domestic and international labour standards.

The timing of the dismissals was no coincidence. Ecopetrol fired the workers shortly after USO had urged people to take to the streets in protest against the government's intention to sell off some of Ecopetrol's assets.

IndustriALL's general secretary, Valter Sanches, has written to the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, and the CEO of Ecopetrol, Felipe Bayón, calling on them to reinstate the dismissed workers and to ensure that the right to freedom of association is guaranteed both at Ecopetrol and in Colombia as a whole.

In his letter to President Duque, Sanches wrote:

“We urge your government to ensure that the necessary conditions and guarantees are in place to protect the right to freedom of association and the lives of all social and union leaders in Colombia.”