Clashes between Ecopetrol and police at the state oil company’s plants in the cities of Cartagena and Barrancabermeja Wednesday left at least 32 protesters injured, said the president of the oil workers union. According to Ecopetrol, the protests have not affected oil production.
Rodolfo Vecino, president of the oil workers’ union USO, told Colombia Reports that two workers have been arrested, 24 protesters were injured in Barrancabermeja and another eight were wounded in Cartagena.
According to the oil union director, the protest was in defense of the workers’ right to associate and collectively bargain wages. Vecino accused Ecopetrol of having pressured workers to leave the union.
The director of the USO, repsresenting a quarter of Ecopetrol workers, added the protest was peaceful until riot police interfered.
Ecopetrol spokesman Juan Guillermo Londoño told Colombia Reports that “Ecopetrol respects the right to association, but we do not agree with this way of coming to a dialogue.”
According to the USO leader, this “is only talk, the reality is different. They are talking about dialogue, but they are attacking us through the riot police.”
The unrest at Ecopetrol is the second oil workers protest turning violent this year; in July riots erupted at the largest oil field of Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales, who protested the dismissal of hundreds of their colleagues.