[Venezuelanalysis.com's Chris Carlson reports on the protest held by SIDOR workers outside the
SIDOR steel plant in Puerto Ordaz on Tuesday demanding that the
government nationalise the company. Last Thursday, Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez warned that he might nationalise the Argentinian-owned
Venezuelan Workers Demand Nationalization of SIDOR Steel Plant
By Chris Carlson - Venezuelanalysis.com
May 04, 2007
Mérida, May 9, 2007 (venezuelanalysis.com)— Workers held protests outside the SIDOR steel plant in Puerto Ordaz yesterday, demanding that the government nationalize the company. Last Thursday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez had warned that he would nationalize the Argentinian-owned company if they didn't meet the needs of domestic industry instead of exporting to foreign customers. It appears, however, that the government has reached an agreement with the company today, allowing the company to remain in private hands.
Workers belonging to the labor union of SIDOR workers gathered outside the plant yesterday, blocking traffic of a nearby road. According to an official of the labor union, workers did not allow entry to the plant starting in the early morning hours.
"As workers we are demanding a definitive answer to the situation," said Ulmaro Ramos, secretary of the union, on a local radio station. A spokesperson for the union stated that the workers are in favor of the president's intention to nationalize the company.
"We are supporting the president's announcement about the possibility to liberate the company which has been subjected to slavery of neo-liberal capitalism for the last 8 years," said José Meléndez, member of the union organization Alianza Sindical de Sidor. Meléndez said that when the plant was privatized there were 11,600 employees and that now there are only 5,700 workers who are "exploited and without any kind of benefits."
Another union, Unidad Matancer, of the political party Causa R demanded that the government take the nationalization even further and give the majority of the company shares to the workers of the plant.
"We are not divided and we completely agree that the president should acquire the control of this company so that it can eventually be passed on to the control of the workers," said Meléndez.
SIDOR is the largest steel plant in the Andean region with a capacity of 4.2 million tons annually. The company was state property since its formation in 1962 until 1998 when it was privatized. 60 percent of the shares were acquired by a consortium named Amazonia, made up by the Argentinean firm Techint as a majority partner, as well as the Mexican Hylsamex, the Brazilian Uniminas, and the Venezuelan company Sivensa as minority partners. The Venezuelan government retained 20 percent of the shares and the remaining 20 percent were given to the workers of the plant.
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