Oil workers in the Ecuadorean Amazon whose six-day strike caused a sharp drop in oil production and millions of dollars in losses agreed Sunday to return to work, an official said.
Strikers and government officials agreed that workers from companies contracted by state-run Petroecuador will be paid their back wages, Ecuadorean Undersecretary of State Felipe Vega told reporters.
On March 6, about 4,000 workers walked off the job demanding payment of three months of back pay and direct hiring by Petroecuador.
President Alfredo Palacio had decreed a state of emergency for the Amazon provinces of Orellana, Sucumbios and Napo after several hundred protesters seized Petroecuador's largest oil fields to press their demands.
This will be lifted in certain areas Monday and completely lifted "once peace returns and production levels are recovered," said Vega.
Government officials also agreed to analyze on a "case by case" basis the more than 50 third-party companies working for Petroecuador.
"This is necessary to fix this inefficient system of 15, 20, 30-day work contracts. The workers have been used to working for months without remuneration," Vega added.
Vega said that Petroecuador's production is now close to 160,000 barrels a day after dropping to around 50,000 barrels on March 7. Daily state oil production is usually around 200,000 barrels.
As of March 8, Petroecuador reported lost production of 197,545 barrels, costing the company US$9.8 million ( Ђ 8.22 million).
Ecuador normally produces about 535,000 barrels of crude daily, between state and private companies, and oil revenues account for 43 percent of the national budget, reports the AP.
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