Colombian-Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales has agreed to hire all unskilled laborers locally in a region hit by protests that temporarily shut down two major oil fields, the company’s vice president said Monday.
“One hundred percent of the unskilled labor will be hired from the people of the region, and that includes Pacific contractors,” the company’s vice president Federico Restrepo said at a press conference in Bogota.
The agreement was reached with residents of Puerto Gaitan in eastern Colombia, where the company’s Rubiales and Quifa oil fields produce 225,000 barrels of oil a day, or around 20 percent of the country’s total.
The company until now has employed 800 people and contracted the labor of 6,000 to 7,000 others. Restrepo said it hoped to recruit another 1,000 to 1,200 workers over the next month.
The agreement will also see the company build some 3,000 affordable housing units and donate around a million dollars to a local hospital.
Workers and residents staged large protests last month, burning tents and other equipment and forcing the company to temporarily halt production.
The contract employees had demanded better wages and conditions, and the company said it was still in negotiations with them.
Colombia produced 953,000 barrels of oil per day in August, a rise of more than 20 percent over the past year.
The center-right government of President Juan Manuel Santos sees the oil industry as a key driver of economic growth, and is aiming to raise crude output to 1.15 million barrels a day by the end of his term in 2014.
Colombia is the third-largest oil producer in South America after Venezuela and Brazil.