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Two Thousand Venezuelan Oil Workers Get Fired for Criticizing the Government

By: Karina Martín - Oct 20, 2016, 2:53 pm
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The suspension of contracts is the subterfuge used by the government to threaten personnel (mérida-digital)

EspañolAccording to Manager of the Unified Federation of Oil Workers of Venezuela José Bodas, 2,000 people have been fired from the government-owned Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) despite being under contract.

Venezuelan workers are continually intimidated and unfairly dismissed for political reasons, local news outlets have reported. Employers create fear and demand loyalty to “Chavismo” if they want to maintain their positions.

“The suspension of labor contracts is the subterfuge used by the ruling party in the oil industry to intimidate contracted staff in order to prevent the exercise of its constitutional and democratic right: the recall referendum,” Bodas said.

The union leader also said that the company violates the Organic Labor Law requiring employers to hire them as permanent workers after a year of service. The government requires political loyalty, and if not, they terminate contracts.

“There are 26,000 workers hired for limited times with the promise that they will be incorporated into the permanent payroll if they are loyal to the government,” he said.

PDVSA encourages outsourcing by contractors by lengthening worker contracts. This is prohibited by law because it is a practice with which employers commit occupational fraud.

Of the 2,500 workers who were removed from employment contract in recent months, “80 percent were because they supported the recall or did not attend the marches,” said Bodas.

“Managers and heads of rojo-rojito continually summon PDVSA workers to show their willingness to PDVSA in order to continue their work.

In August alone, at least 300 workers at the Metro of Caracas had to leave their jobs for not supporting Chavismo.

Union representatives and workers decided to speak out against this harassment at the National Assembly’s Commission on Integral Social Development.

According to local media reports, the first 12 unfair dismissals of the year were in September, coming after the recall and the organizing of workers to demand change from the SITRAMECA union. The group opposes the holding of union elections.

“We were exposed to public ridicule,” Gutierrez said. “It also served as a warning to other workers subject to constant threats of the company. Most unfortunate is that union leadership, instead of defending the rights of workers, is dedicated to being a scab because it wants to remain in charge.”

Gutierrez and the other 11 workers learned of their dismissals after their photos were placed on a poster at the company.

A letters of dismissal he received alleged that “dishonesty and unethical behavior at work” were the reasons behind his firing.

Among the dismissed are a Metrobus driver with 25 years of service and medical leave, for having an occupational disease. Another employee at the time of dismissal was on funeral leave, said Gutierrez , noting that the procedure was totally illegal by an executive decree of job security.

Deputy and President of the Commission of Integral Social Development of the National Assembly Miguel Pizarro said their records will be subject to Ombudsman review and will bring a summon to the union president of the Caracas Metro.

“There are cases of people suffering from disabilities and are in the list of unjustified firings,” he said.

“If you ignore it three consecutive times, it could be considered contempt, and we could apply the Law of Appearance without the defense of any court,” Pizarro said.

Sources: Tal Cual; El Nacional.

Karina Martín Karina Martín

Karina Martín is a Venezuelan reporter with the PanAm Post based in Valencia. She holds a bachelor's degree in Modern Languages from the Arturo Michelena University.