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Talks break down in Colombia

30 November, 2012On 24 November talks between Termotecnica Coindustrial and the Union Sindical Obrera de la Industria del Petróleo (USO) broke down in Colombia, giving way to further tensions on the ground.

USO negotiating committee, representing the Termotecnica workers in Colombia, sat down with management on 24 November in a final effort to come to a negotiated solution to end the struggle.

Cepcolsa, the Colombian subsidiary of Spanish-based CEPSA, to which Termotécnica provides services, is however not interested in a solution through dialogue. It became clear to the union in the negotiating process with Termotecnica that CEPSA had not given the company approval to consider the 18 demands put forward by the union. With regards to the economic demands, the union made all possible efforts to bring their demands down to the lowest acceptable level but the company showed no willingness to consider.

USO’s negotiating committee was joined in the talks by IndustriALL, showing the company the global support USO has.

The USO negotiating committee had stated that “We will do our best to find a negotiated solution, but we will not rule out the risk of failure in this last round.” USO insists on the path to constructive dialogue, justice for the working class, and achieving a solution at the negotiating table, but the company’s intransigence has left no hope for a solution.

In the past both companies, Termotécnica Coindustrial SA and Cepcolsa had refused to negotiate the list of demands of Termotécnica’s workers, presented through USO, the trade union chosen to represent them. On 10 October, the Colombian Ministry of Labour issued a sentence in favour of the workers and the USO, obliging the parties to negotiate. Until late November, Cepcolsa and Termotécnica had not reacted to this decision of the labour ministry.

The decision gave the parties a time frame between 1-20 November to negotiate and come to a solution. The company management sought the maximum delay with regards to the notice issued by the Colombian Ministry of Labour and finally another extension was granted until 25 November, which proved ineffectual considering that there was no willingness from Termotecnica to enter into meaningful talks with the union.

IndustriALL Global Union has sent letters to Termotecnica and the Colombian president, condemning the anti-union practices of local management in refusing dialogue with union representatives and the various forms of union-busting used in violation of core ILO Conventions 87 and 98. IndustriALL continues to express solidarity and support for its affiliate USO and calls on affiliates to send letters to the Colombian President, the Ministry of Labour and Chairman of CEPSA.