The oil and natural gas exploration company Pan American Energy (PAE) ended its contracts with the companies Skanska and Contreras Hermanos today. Both these companies hired almost 1000 ‘Dragóns’, or workers of the Cerro Dragón oil field (the largest of its kind in Argentina) who have been picketing on a national highway in the province of Chubut, as part of a protest that began on June 21st.
The ‘Dragóns’ have been asking that PAE provide them with the same conditions and pay as they would to workers affiliated with the oil and gas workers union. Although they carry out many of the same tasks, the PAE rejects this possibility. In response, the ‘Dragóns’ began picketing on a national highway in Chubut and blocked the entrance of several oil fields in the area.
Officials stepped in yesterday to try to resolve the conflict between protesters and their employer. Federal Judge Eva Parcio ordered an eviction of the ‘Dragons’ from National Route 3, and Governer of Chubut Martín Buzzi tried to implement a conciliatory agreement between the protestors and PAE.
The PAE has responded today by cutting their contracts with the two companies responsible for hiring the ‘Dragóns.’ The company told La Nación that the decision was made because the two contracted companies did not comply with their responsibilities and did not protect PAE property and equipment during the protests. They affirmed, however, that the action taken today would “not affect the production of oil and gas.”
Representatives of the Dragóns said that the group would discuss this afternoon whether to accept the conciliatory agreement or not, and are still keeping some roads blocked. Guido Dickanson of the ‘Dragóns’ told El Ambito Financiero that for the conflict to end “they would have to give in to our demands, to solve the salary inequalities, to reincorporate those who were fired, and to not treat us like second-class workers.”