Oil workers launch indefinite strike, affecting Vaca Muerta

Unions announced industrial action after a worker lost an arm in an accident

On Sunday, oil and gas workers went on indefinite strike to demand safer working conditions after a worker lost his arm in an industrial accident last Wednesday. It was the latest in a spate of recent injuries and deaths affecting oil and gas workers. 

Argentina’s largest oil union, the Private Oil and Gas Union (Sindicato del Petróleo y Gas Privado), and the Union of Private Oil and Gas Management and Professional Staff (Sindicato del Personal Jerárquico y Profesional del Petróleo y Gas Privado) announced the strike on Sunday. It affects activity in the main oil companies and in Vaca Muerta, the fourth largest unconventional oil reserve in the world.

“There is no training or accident prevention plan in the [region] from the labor risk insurance companies, which are controlled by the Labor Risk Superintendent and the Labor Ministry. We workers are just a record that brings in money and only serve to break production records – while we break records of deaths,” the Private Oil and Gas Union said in a statement published last night.

“Tired of the tragic accidents that cost lives or leave workers mutilated and in the absence of responses from the companies and the national government to put an end to this situation, we decided to launch a plan of struggle defined last Thursday,” the union representation said in a statement.

Last Wednesday a worker in Plottier, Neuquén, lost his arm during his shift. In April, oil workers in Neuquén protested demanding safer roads after one of their colleagues died on shift in a crash between two trucks on Ruta 151.

“We are tired of seeing how meaningless discussions are extended over time with the sole purpose of delaying action. The employers’ disregard for the life and integrity of people is alarming,” the union’s statement added.

The Vaca Muerta shale region spans the provinces of Neuquén, Río Negro, La Pampa, and Mendoza

The Private Oil and Gas Union in Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa represents over 24,000 workers.

The Chamber for the Exploration and Production of Hydrocarbons (CEPH) addressed a letter to the Labour Minister, Kelly Olmos, asking her to issue a compulsory conciliation to avoid interruptions to hydrocarbon production and supply. They said the strike had been announced “unilaterally and without any prior notice whatsoever”.

La Red Neuquén, a local radio, reported that Oil Worker’s Secretary General Marcelo Rucci was summoned by the Labour Ministry to carry out a negotiation with CEPH authorities at 11a.m. 

-With information from Reuters


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