Venezuelan Steel Plant Sidor Renews Operation

Following the announcement of a collective workers’ contract signed at the end of last week, the Sidor steel plant in Ciudad Guyana will reopen for normal operation, several officials confirmed this afternoon.

By Sascha Bercovitch

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Minister of Industry José David Cabello conducted a tour of the plant with workers (El Universal)
Minister of Industry José David Cabello conducted a tour of the plant with workers (El Universal)
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Caracas, August 18th 2014 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Following the announcement of a collective workers’ contract signed at the end of last week, the Sidor steel plant in Ciudad Guyana will reopen for normal operation, several officials confirmed this afternoon.

“I opened the plant, and we did a tour to enact a complete overhaul and maintenance plan,” Minister of Industry José David Cabello wrote earlier on Twitter. “My congratulations to the Sidor workers who have demonstrated their commitment to productivity.”

The development comes after weeks of conflict between workers at the state-owned plant and the Venezuelan government over the terms of the contract.

While workers numerous demonstrations throughout Ciudad Guyana to protest the government’s stance on the negotiations, key figures in the government – including National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro – characterized the protests as part of a larger attempt by “mafias” to create chaos within the factory and the region.

Last Thursday, Information Minister Delcy Rodríguez and Sidor Workers’ Trade Union (Sutiss) Secretary José Meléndez announced the agreement of a new collective workers’ contract which included a salary increase and retroactive pay for the time spent in negotiations. Since the last contract expired in 2010, workers had complained of a reduced wage value due to inflation.

Other Sutiss members, however, rejected the contract on grounds that negotiations excluded key representatives and lacked collective approval through a workers’ assembly.

Regarding these tensions, Cabello noted that “the guarimba [a term also used to characterize opposition protests earlier in the year] failed here like it failed in the rest of the country. Sidor is not even going to stop. Sidor should be a spearhead in the industry, and for the benefit of all Venezuelans.”

“We are going to analyze the situation, and present [President] Maduro a short-term investment plan for the most important lines of production,” he added.

Last week, Diosdado Cabello reentered the Sidor conversation by announcing, on his weekly television program, that certain employees were conspiring with the United States Embassy against the Venezuelan government.

“All those who have administered money in the Guyana companies will have to account for every penny they oversaw, because we are going to do a thorough investigation,” he said. “[Sidor] is for all Venezuelans, and it is the source of employment for many households in this country.”