Image courtesy of Union Sindical Obrera del la Industrial del Petroleo.

One of Colombia’s largest oil worker unions has called for an indefinite strike as low oil prices force firms to lay off workers.

A start date for the strike has not been set yet but Union Sindical Obrera del la Industrial del Petroleo (USO) president Edwin Castano told Reuters a date would be selected by March 26.

According to the USO about 10,000 workers have been laid off since oil prices began plummeting last year.

Union members are concerned that the government could sell more stakes in state owned Ecopetrol.

The union also disagrees with a privatization plan for state owned energy company Isagen designed to raise highway infrastructure funding.

Castano added that the union is willing to discuss its issues with government officials until the strike officially starts.

Ecopetrol employees about 2,400 USO members.

Other union members work as contractors for Ontario-based Pacific Rubiales.

“The 26th of March is the deadline we have for setting when the strike will begin. Meanwhile, we’re waiting to open dialogue with the government and with Ecopetrol,” Castano said.

USO members approved the strike action Tuesday after Labor Minister Louis Eduardo Garzon said the government is open to hearing the union’s grievances and exploring potential solutions.

A source close to Ecopetrol told Reuters the state owned company is preparing a contingency plan to deal with potential disruptions.

Strikes at Ecopetrol are technically prohibited under Colombian law because the firm provides a public service.



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