26 Feb 2010. After a month of work stoppage and protests, this week BP at last met with the strikers and community representatives around its oil fields in Casanare, Colombia (link to previous report ).
Very late Tuesday night the two sides reached an agreement, although with some ambiguities. Earlier that day BP had tried to run a group of scabs through the picket line on the Tauramena Central Processing Facility (CPF), but the strikers chained themselves to the gates and successfully blocked the strike-breakers.
The following day the 30 strikers at SAR Energy, the sub-contractor and their immediate employer, met with managers. But SAR backtracked, and would not honour the previous day’s commitment to reinstate all the strikers, with full pay for 30 days lost wages. SAR Energy and Ocensa have since changed tack again, accepting reinstatement of all the workers, but only offering half pay for the 30 days lost.
Colombian Oil Workers Union USO states "it is an advance that BP has at last sat down with the strikers even though we hadn’t lifted the stoppage, a shift from their previous position. This turnaround includes recognition of USO as a legitimate form of struggle for the workers."
Five negotiating commissions are going to be set up, dealing with labour problems, social investment, goods and services, environment and human rights. They will be inaugurated on 2 March, start work on 16 March and finish on 16 April.
USO continues, "we must not lower our guard". The union points out that the next two months will be decisive in order to establish the rules of play for multinationals in the department, calling on all of the citizens in Aguazul and Tauramena to unite and continue mobilising "for defence of the [men and women] workers’ rights, the environment, social investment and hence the future of generations to come".
The workers are going back to work, but the mobilisations continue!
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