Mérida, 9th October 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Employees of Venezuela’s largest steel producer have returned to work, after a partial resolution to a long running pay dispute was reached between the company and workers yesterday.
Late Tuesday night, head of the state-owned industrial conglomerate Corporacion Venezolana de Guayana (CVG), Carlos Osorio, announced that workers at the steel producer Siderurgica de Orinoco (Sidor) had agreed to an “advanced payment” plan. Sidor is a subsidiary of CVG.
Under the plan, workers will receive Bs40,000 in two lump sums. The first payment of Bs25,000 will be made on 31 October, and a second payout of Bs15,000 is slated for 16 December.
Although the deal ends 22 days of lost production for Sidor, it doesn’t end the pay dispute. A final payout figure for the total amount owed to workers is yet to be agreed upon, with the union pushing for a much higher final payout.
“It is estimated that individual debt is roughly 150,000 bolivars per person, a sum accumulated since Sidor was nationalized in 2008,” unionist Yunis Hernandez stated earlier this week.
The workers and the company appear to have settled on a final payment figure that offered workers between Bs150,000 and Bs200,000 on 31 September. However, just days later the strike resumed, with the head of the Trade Union of Workers and Allied Steel Industry (SUTISS) Jose Luis Hernandez announcing that compensation hadn’t been properly calculated by the company.
Since then, President Nicolas Maduro also weighed in, stating, “There will be no weakness in the face of labour criminals, anarcho-syndicalists”.
“I hope they rectify their position immediately or soon. If not, we’ll recover Sidor with the entire people of Venezuela, with all types of workers,” Maduro said.
“It’s not as if we’re holding a knife to their throat so they pay us now; we just want a timetable for the payments,” unionist Yunis Hernandez told EFE on Tuesday.
After previously denying there were any inconsistencies in the proposed compensation package, Osorio conceded on Tuesday night that there were “some errors in the calculation formulas of [company] profits”.
Soon after Osorio confirmed the advance payment plan, at 11pm last night work restarted. The first full shift since last week’s short-lived return to work ended at 7 am this morning.
According to the company’s website, Sidor is the largest steel producer in the Andean region, and the fourth largest in Latin America.