More than 14,000 workers at Venezuela's largest steel plant, Ternium Sidor, were on strike last week in a dispute over their pay and conditions.
The United Steel Industry Workers Union (SUTISS) wants a decent pay increase plus retroactive payments, and more money for the pension fund. It took a day’s action, followed by a 48 hour strike last week, and threatened to extend the strike indefinitely if the company fails to meet their demands.
Sidor, which manufactures wire and metal piping, is the in the fourth largest plant in Latin America. Sidor was privatised in 1997. Argentinian firm Trechint now owns a 60% controlling stake, 20% belongs to workers, and the remaining 20% is owned by the Venezuelan state.
Since privatisation the company has reduced its number of permanent employees from 18,000 to 5,400 and increased outsourced labour from 3,000 to 9,000. The union says working conditions have decreased dramatically and 18 workers have been killed in workplace related accidents over this period. They also said the outsourced workers, who earn significantly lower salaries than the permanent workers, suffer inferior working conditions and are victims of 65% of workplace accidents.
Last year sections of the Sidor workforce called for the company to be nationalised and put under worker's control.