Colombian trade unionists in Montreal
1212, rue Panet, Montreal
Beaudry metro station
Projet Accompagnement Solidarité Colombie (PASC) invites you to a panel discussion with two representatives of Union Sindical Obrera (USO), the Colombian oil and gas workers union, currently embroiled in a labour conflict with the Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales (PRE); the president of the Federation of Mining and Energy Sector Workers of Colombia; and a specialist on oil and gas issues in Québec and Canada, where oil pipeline projects are a source of increasing conflict and resistance.
In the North as in the South, oil companies continue to cause serious problems. As the Colombian government and the FARC pursue their peace talks in Havana, the Colombian social movements are organizing to hold a People’s Tribunal on extractive industries in Colombia. They are demanding to participate in the peace process with a view to attacking the root causes of the armed conflict, which they argue include land concentration and the pillaging of natural resources by transnationals and domestic companies.
Since the 2011 strike, a labor conflict has pitted the USO and its members against the Canadian company Pacific Rubiales Energy. PRE operates oil fields through a subcontractor, employing 14,000 workers in the region of Puerto Gaítan (Department of Meta). The conflict has resulted in several cases of aggression against unionized workers, including death threats, attacks, and public defamation. This has not prevented the workers from continuing to fight against poor working conditions and union busting practices.
Rodolfo Vecino is the National President of the USO. A refinery operator, he has been involved in trade union work for 18 years. In the context of the Pacific Rubiales Energy conflict, he has assisted with the strike process and the permanent workers’ assembly since 2011. He has himself received threats and false accusations that could cause him to face criminal charges.
Cesar Loza is the Secretary for International Affairs of the USO. A production operator by trade, he has been working for the union for 16 years and is in charge of international complaints against Pacific Rubiales Energy.
Francisco Ramirez is the President of Funtraenergetica, the Federation of Mining and Energy Sector Workers of Colombia, which includes oil and gas workers. He is a labour lawyer and the author of a book on the mining industry in Colombia that uncovered the role of the Canadian government in making business-friendly changes to the Mining Code. Funtraenergetica supports workers in their organization and strike efforts. Its support is essential to the building of coalitions among workers, indigenous communities, Afro-Colombian communities, and peasants to confront the multinationals. Funtraenergetica played a high-profile role in the strikes against Drummond and Cerrejón.
Jean-Luc Cécyre is an environmental activist, a small farmer, and an independent researcher. He will talk about pipeline projects in Canada and Québec such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway in Western Canada, the inversion of Enbridge’s Line 9 from Sarnia to Montreal, the shale gas project in the St. Lawrence River basin, and local fights against these energy projects.
For more information on the PASC campaign targeting Canadian war profiteering in Colombia, or on Pacific Rubiales Energy, go to www.pasc.ca, where you will also find the latest PASC newsletter on the subject.
The tour of this Colombian delegation is sponsored by the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and United Steel Workers (USW)