Workers Rally to Support Venezuela’s Nationalization of Veneco

Oct 13th 2010 , by James Suggett

Mérida, October 12th 2010 ( – Factory workers from the Venezuelan chemical and lubricant company Veneco held a demonstration Sunday night in Carabobo state to show their support for the company’s nationalization, which President Hugo Chavez announced last Sunday afternoon.

“We are endorsing this takeover that will bring us many benefits,” said José Martínez, the general secretary of the Venoco workers’ union. “It will bring a change from the capitalist mode to the socialist mode and we are going to strengthen our company.”

Of Venoco’s 700 workers, 415 are union members who benefit from a collective contract, while the rest are contract laborers, according to Martínez. “We are sure that now these fellow workers will become part of this family with all their benefits,” he said.

“There were several irregularities here, among them the existence of many fellow workers who were contract laborers, including people who have worked at Venoco for 40 years and they do not receive any type of benefits,” said Martínez, referring to the former private management. “We are sure that this condition will come to and end with socialism.”

The union has already begun conversations with the government committee in charge of the nationalization, in which the collective contract and job security were discussed, Martínez said.

The union leader affirmed, “The majority of the workers were hoping for this [nationalization] for a long time.” He also acknowledged that some of the workers do not support the nationalization, and he called on these workers to be “calm and peaceful.”

“There will be no witch hunts here. Labor rights are being guaranteed for all of us who work for the company, because this is socialism, and socialism is inclusion,” said Martínez.

Freddy Espinosa, a spokesperson for the union, said the process of nationalization has been peaceful. “The good thing is that everything has happened in a peaceful manner and without conflicts. Members of the company’s management have shown their willingness to collaborate,” he said. The new structure of the company will bring “the equal distribution of what we produce,” said the union spokesperson.

Another union member, quoted by, said the nationalization would bring benefits to public transportation providers and users, because the company’s automobile lubricants and chemical products will be cheaper.

On Monday, hundreds of workers from other companies that have been nationalized in recent years also demonstrated in Carabobo state to show their support for the nationalization of Venoco.

Asdrúbal Chávez, the vice president of the state oil company, PDVSA, spoke at the demonstration, and assured the workers that their jobs and rights are “guaranteed” as a “policy of the revolutionary process.”

In addition, Venezuela’s largest national union federation, the pro-government National Workers Union (UNETE), declared its support for the Venoco nationalization on Monday.

“Our union federation, UNETE, supports the expropriations of Agroisleña, Venoco, and Fertinitro, as part of the construction of food and energy sovereignty,” stated national UNETE coordinator Marcela Máspero, referring to two other companies that were recently nationalized, in addition to Venoco.

“We will be suggesting to the nationalization committee the necessity of fully incorporating the workers and their union organizations in the tasks of planning, production, distribution, and marketing in each of these companies in order to construct a socialist management model,” Máspero added.

Venoco’s nationalization was the result of the company’s record of price speculation on manufactured products despite having access to cheap state-regulated inputs, according to the government, and bringing the company under state management is intended to lower food price inflation and increase food production.


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