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The International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and & General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) condemns the cold-blooded assassination of a Colombian contract worker who was working with affiliate Unión Sindical Obrera (USO) to bring trade union rights to temporary workers at Ecopetrol’s Barrancabermeja refining and petrochemicals complex in Santander department.

Isidro Rivera Barrera, 45, was repairing a washing machine in front of his home at 16h on 26 September in Barrancabermeja when a gunman jumped off a motorcycle and shot him three times at point-blank range. The assassin and accomplice then escaped on the high-powered motorcycle.

“This cowardly act again reminds us that Colombia is a deadly country for those exercising freedom of association and free speech rights,” said ICEM General Secretary Manfred Warda. “We reiterate our trade union affiliate USO’s call that Colombia’s public prosecution office uses all means to apprehend and prosecute the criminals and masterminds behind this heinous crime.”

The ICEM also called on Ecopetrol, its major contractor at Barrancabermeja, Foster Wheeler AG, and all other sub-contractors to ensure the security of all oil industry workers in the city. The ICEM further called on 90% state-owned Ecopetrol and its contractors to create workplace climates where freedom of association and rights to join unions and bargaining collectively are considered common civil liberties.

Isidro Rivera was shot twice in the shoulder and once in the throat. He died within minutes of the shooting, slumped across the chair he was working on and in front of neighbours who came running after hearing the shots. Isidro Rivera was a recognised union member by Ecopetrol who was attempting to spread the trade union message to contract workers inside Colombia’s biggest downstream oil and petrochemical facilities. He is survived by three children.

For further information, contact ICEM Information Officer Dick Blin,, +41 22 304 1842.

This ICEM release is also available on the ICEM Web-site

International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and & General Workers’ Unions (ICEM)