Colombia: army attacks striking workers at BP facility
On June 2, a heavily armed commando of the Colombian National Army leapt over the security fence at BP's Tauramena Central Processing Facility in Casanare department to attack group of striking workers who have been occupying the complex. Oscar Garcia, of the National Oil Workers Union said, "This shows how BP is bent on war against workers who are only demanding that their fundamental rights be respected."
The mobilization began in February, when workers started blocking access roads to BP's installations after the company refused to recognize a union and proposed collective bargaining agreement. The blockades were repeatedly attacked by ESMAD, the elite Colombian riot police. At night workers sleep chained to machinery under temporary shelters as a precaution against any further attempts to forcibly remove them.
The striking workers were employed by BP's contractors to build additional capacity at the plant to process natural gas from the nearby Cusiana field, allowing an increase of output to 300 million cubic feet a day, up from the current 230 million. BP operates the Cusiana field in partnership with Colombian state company Ecopetrol and the French company Total. BP owns 31% of the field, while Ecopetrol owns 50% and Total owns the remaining 19%. All 400 workers contract are on strike. (Upside Down World, Dow Jones, June 4)
See our last post on Colombia.