Labour leaders participate in hearing against Canadian oil giant in Colombia this week

BOGOTA, Colombia, July 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Local and national leaders from Canada's largest energy union will take part in a public hearing this week on charges laid against the Canadian oil and gold company, Pacific Rubiales Energy, in Bogota, Colombia.

"Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union President Dave Coles and CEP Local 707 (Suncor) Secretary-Treasurer Angela Adams will be available for media interviews throughout the process, which will also spotlight the pillage of Colombia's natural resources by foreign mining, gas and hydroelectric companies as well as the ongoing political violence against union members, indigenous leaders and communities affected by mega-development projects, as well as environmental and social activists.

CEP is calling on the Canadian government to support a moratorium on all mining concessions in Colombia until the country revamps its policies. Many of the extractive companies in Colombia are registered in Canada.

"Pacific Rubiales has created a violent conflict in its blind pursuit of profits, and that is a black mark on Canada and our mining industry," says Coles.

"Worker activists have not only faced threats and violence, but have paid with their lives."

Pacific Rubiales refuses to recognize the oil workers' union (USO) and sub-contracts its workforce, meaning that its workers live in permanent job insecurity. They work in dismal conditions for wages below minimum for the Colombian oil industry.

At the hearing, July 13, the main charges that will be laid against Pacific Rubiales are for violations of the Colombian labour code, violations of freedom of association and union-busting.  It will take place in the context of the Popular Tribunal Against Extractive Policies in Colombia, organized by Colombian organizations, including the USO. More than one hundred experts, researchers, jurists, human rights defenders, journalists, affected community members, union leaders, and workers will hear the full details of the accusations against Pacific Rubiales. Representatives of the company are also invited to respond to the various charges and testimonies.

Pacific Rubiales Energy is headquartered in Toronto and is run by Venezuelan expatriates who left their country in 2002. Pacific Rubiales has several subsidiaries in the petroleum and mining sectors operating throughout Colombia and announced in 2012 that it intends to explore untapped shale gas and tar sands deposits. The company's main operation however lies in the Campo Rubiales deposit, where output reached 200,000 barrels a day in November 2012, having grown almost 50% over the past two years.

The company employs approximately 15,000 workers in the Puerto Gaítan and Campo Rubiales regions of the Meta department.

SOURCE: COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY AND PAPERWORKERS UNION OF CANADA

For further information:

Dave Coles (613) 299-5628, dcoles@cep.ca

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COMMUNICATIONS, ENERGY AND PAPERWORKERS UNION OF CANADA

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