Workers at the BP processing plant at Tauramena, part of the Cusiana oil field in Casanare, Colombia went on strike on 22 January 2010 for improved wages. It was the first such labour stoppage in 18 years. On 15 February the notorious ESMAD ‘anti-mutiny’ police brutally attacked the workers picket line and the local community with teargas and beatings, three workers were hospitalised. The workers are members of the national Oil Workers Union USO that has only been able to organise in BP plants in the last year.
BP MUST RECOGNISE ITS RESPONSIBILITY TO CASANARE WORKERS, COMMUNITIES AND THE ENVIRONMENT
Picket BP Annual shareholders General Meeting 10.30am Thursday 15 April Excel Conference Centre, Royal Victoria Dock,1 Western Gateway, London E16
PUBLIC MEETING (with support from Polo Democratico UK)
FILM: CASANARE – EXHUMING THE GENOCIDE
SPEAKER: FROM CASANARE COMMUNITY ORGANISATION COS-PACC
6.30pm Friday 16 April SOAS, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG
(nearest tube Russell Square)
When BP arrived in Casanare community organisations demanding better treatment were eliminated by death squads. In all 2,600 people have been similarly ‘disappeared’. The special 16th Army Brigade that BP finances is still carrying out extra-judicial executions, and dressing up the victims as guerrillas, so-called false positives.
The workers are back at work, but the community mobilisations continue.
After a month of work stoppage and community protests, on 23 February BP at last met with the strikers and community representatives. The two sides reached a limited agreement, with some ambiguities. Earlier that day BP had tried to run a group of scabs through the picket line on the Tauramena Central Processing Facility (CPF), but the strikers chained themselves to the gates and successfully blocked the strike-breakers. The following day the 30 strikers at SAR Energy, the sub-contractor and their immediate employer, met with managers.
BP needs to recognise the harm it has done. Five negotiating commissions were going to be set up, dealing with labour problems, social investment, goods and services, environment and human rights. They were supposed to be inaugurated on 2 March, but the process nearly broke down due to BP’s arrogant attitude. On 7 March the community held a mass mobilization demonstrating the continuing anger. On 23 March the^ union USO and the community movement Movimiento de Dignidad por el Casanare presented their joint demands, BP promised to respond 14-16 April. We are waiting.
In the meantime, in the nearby city of Villavicencio at 11.1 Sam on Saturday 27 March two gunmen on a motorbike shot at USO union officials, fatally wounding their bodyguard.
Recommended solidarity actions:
Send protest messages to BP demanding the corporation conducts peaceful negotiations with USO, meets the workers just demands and guarantees no victimisation of union members; and that BP condemns the ESMAD police repression of its employees. Send your message to (£2.5 million a year) Executive Director and Group Chief Executive Tony Hayward at email: firstname.lastname@example.org Send messages of solidarity to the workers and community via email: email@example.com
Join the Colombia Solidarity Campaign, we will be holding more solidarity events.
Colombia Solidarity Campaign London Branch meets at 7pm on the third Tuesday of the month
7pm Tuesday 20 April
The Apple Tree pub, 45 Mount Pleasant, WC1 (Russell Square, Farringdon, Kings X or Angel tube)
Integration of the Peoples & Pachamama VS. “Global Europe’s” free trade agenda
Hear about the EU free trade agreement shortly to be signed with Colombia and Peru, and the challenge to the EU’s trade agenda in the debate around the “people’s integration” and the rights of Pachamama now taking place in Bolivia.
Film: Integration of the Peoples: an alternative in construction in Latin America.
Speakers: José Sagaz of Bolivia Solidarity Campaign, Amanda Latimer from CSC.
Colombia Solidarity Campaign. PO Box 8446, London N17 6NZ