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Colombia's Largest Oil Union to Vote on Possible Strike

Posted by September 6, 2016

Members of Colombia's largest oil workers union will vote on whether to strike in protest of privatizations at state-run oil company Ecopetrol, the union's president said on Tuesday.
Most of the 21,000 members of the Workers Union for the Petroleum Industry (USO) work at Ecopetrol, which has sold several major non-oil related assets in an effort to refocus its operations after the slump in crude prices.
Ecopetrol's net profit tumbled nearly 48 percent in the second quarter, the company said last month, because of a fall in sales and output.
Privatizations, the sale of subsidiaries and oil fields and delays in modernization work at the Barrancabermeja refinery were the reasons for a potential strike, union president Cesar Loza told journalists.
The strike vote would take place after a nationwide plebiscite on Oct. 2 the Colombian government's peace deal with Marxist FARC rebels. The union supports the peace deal. If the strike were to be approved, the union has 10 days to declare a start time.
An Ecopetrol representative referred Reuters to a statement published by the company last week. Ecopetrol is open to dialogue with the union, but rejects the possible strike action, the statement said.
Union leader Loza said that affiliated and unaffiliated workers would cast a secret ballot "to decide if they agree or disagree that USO should lead and execute a strike in protest of Ecopetrol."
The union would work with Ecopetrol to prevent the strike affecting oil supply in the country, Loza said.
(Reporting by Carlos Vargas; Writing by Julia Symmes Cobb)

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