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Take Action for striking Colombian oil workers

4 October, 2012IndustriALL Global Union calls on its members to express their support for affiliated Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) and the 1,100 striking contract workers in conflict with an oilfield services company in the central Colombian municipality of Puerto Gaitán, as mass work stoppages were met with police aggression yesterday.

Join IndustriALL in calling Termotecnica Coindustrial S.A. management to enter into dialogue with USO. From this page send your letter of protest to the local management.

Termotecnica’s workers have been demanding fairer wages and the ending of ill-treatment by officials. Termotecnica and Cepcolsa, a subsidiary of Spanish-based oil and gas giant CEPSA, to which Termotecnica provides services, both continue to refuse to enter negotiations with USO over the workers’ demands. The conflict is now over 50 days in.

Today IndustriALL has condemned, in letters to Termotecnica and the Colombian president, the anti-union practices of local management in refusing dialogue with union representatives and in various forms of union-busting in violation of core ILO Conventions 87 and 98. General Secretary Jyrki Raina urged them to restore industrial relations with the 1,100 outsourced workers, providing electric motors, generators, centrifugal dryers, filtering and purifying machinery.

Yesterday and today 12,000 oil field workers, led by USO, have conducted a mass work-stoppage throughout the Meta Department, denouncing oil multinationals’ increasing use and abuse of outsourcing and non-compliance labour laws. The demonstrations were met with police force injuring and arresting a number of strikers and trade union activists.

Communities are joining the mass work stoppage in support of workers' demands, and community demands for fairer distribution of oil revenues, preservation of the environment and greater social investment by oil companies in the municipalities where they operate.

The mobilizations will continue 4 October and join up with national demonstrations against precarious work organized in the biggest towns of the country by the national trade union centres on the occasion of the world day for decent work.

Several acts of repression and intimidation have been perpetrated recently in and around Puerto Gaitán by security and intelligence forces, as well as private security forces on USO representatives and on striking workers involved in the current labour conflict. On several occasions, the deployment of security forces has prevented USO representatives to get access to striking workers, and to organize these workers. Unidentified heavily-armed men have been circulating in a vehicle in the camps where the striking workers stay, intimidating them with clear threats against their continued trade union activities. Despite this violent intimidation, mobilization of workers continues.