USO oil workers union denounces threat of dismissals

Colombia’s main oil workers union USO has denounced what it says are attempts by the government and the state oil company Ecopetrol to unfairly dismiss union leaders in violation of labour laws. USO opposes plans to privatise Ecopetrol, which it says has led to the targeting of of its officials. The union has asked for the support of other trade unions and called on the authorities to tackle ongoing violence against trade unionists and social leaders in Colombia.

Read the full USO statement below.


The Workers’ Trade Union of the Petroleum Industry informs the international community, the systematic aggressions to which it is subjected by the national government and the administration of the state oil company, violating all national and international regulations, in a clear sign of his contempt for democracy represented in the union leaders.

Ecopetrol has proceeded to dismiss unjustified on December 22, 2018, the president of the section USO Cartagena, partner ENRIQUE RODRIGUEZ, as in turn also intends to dismiss the colleagues ARIEL CORZO AND EDWIN CASTAÑO, union leaders of the National Board of the USO, applying the unilateral guide of “disengagement of Ecopetrol workers”, with this, they violate what was agreed in the current collective labor agreement.

In the policy of criminalization of trade union activity, it is necessary to point out the disciplinary, criminal and administrative processes against trade union leaders of the different branches at the national level.

From Wednesday January 16 of this year begins the proceedings of discharges ARIEL CORZO which It persists until next Wednesday, January 23, where there is evidence of the lack of legal and evident argumentation in a clear assembly designed and carried out by the contractors in I associate with Ecopetrol whose purpose is to fire colleagues to sow terror in the workers and thus proceed with their anti-labor policies.

For our union it is of great concern that in the moments that the union leaders are dismissed, the national government makes the announcement of the sale of part of the company, a clear sign of its intention to eliminate from the road the union that opposes the sale of the state oil company and has made the call to the Colombian people to organize to go out to the street to defend it.

We call for the solidarity of sister organizations to make a pronouncement, an energetic call to the president of the republic Iván Duque, and the president of Ecopetrol Felipe Bayón to respect the right to free exercise of trade union activity, reintegrate Fellows unfairly dismissed ENRIQUE RODRIGUEZ, JOAQUIN PADILLA, WILMER HERNANDEZ and refrain from firing ARIEL CORZO AND EDWIN CASTAÑO.

Likewise, that all the necessary conditions and guarantees are created to protect the lives of the social and union leaders who are being murdered and to investigate the murders committed which today enjoy total impunity.

Barrancabermeja, January 18, 2019