Oil Workers Protest Pay in Venezuela

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan oil workers protested against a new minimum wage at key crude processing facilities last week, claiming the new law disregards previous pay scales and union agreements.

Several dozen workers protested outside Petropiar, the oil upgrader controlled by Petroleos de Venezuela SA and Chevron Corp. in Anzoategui state Friday morning, chanting “Fair wages, now!,” according to videos and a workers’ bulletin seen by Bloomberg. Workers at Petrocedeno, another upgrader owned by PDVSA, Total SA and Equinor ASA, organized meetings last week to arrange a protest near the state prosecutor’s office in Puerto la Cruz on Oct. 3, according to Petrocedeno worker Leonardo Ugarte.

PDVSA employees are revolting against this month’s more than 3,000 percent increase in the nation’s minimum wage to 1,800 bolivars a month -- about $15 at the black-market rate -- which they claim is not enough to cover their needs. Venezuela’s inflation is running at about 111,000 percent, according to Bloomberg’s Cafe con Leche Index.

Oil Workers Protest Pay in Venezuela

PDVSA’s human resources head Robert Perez traveled to Puerto La Cruz from Caracas to meet with workers and discuss details of the new wages, but most unions opted out of the meetings, Ugarte said.

Chevron deferred questions to Petropiar. Petrocedono JV partners Equinor and Total didn’t reply to requests for comment on Friday and Monday.

The protests have stalled procedures and work flow near the Orinoco Belt and Petropiar, according to a worker who asked to remain unnamed. They have also affected work at Petrocedeno, Venezuela’s largest upgrader, Ugarte said. Workers at a PDVSA fertilizer plant in Puerto La Cruz called Fertinitro also protested on Thursday, according to Gregorio Rodriguez, one of the city’s oil union leaders.

A PDVSA official confirmed Perez’s visit but declined to offer further details on whether Petropiar’s procedures had been stalled.

PDVSA workers from Puerto La Cruz oil docks marched in one of Puerto La Cruz’s main avenues carrying banners demanding better salary and respect for contracts, Rodriguez said.

“PDVSA’s management has not given us details of new salaries or how pay scales will be distributed,” Rodriguez said.

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