Guillermo Pereyra and the birth of the private Oil Union: this was the story

Guillermo Pereyra, who led the Private Oil and Gas Union of Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa for four decades, died this Tuesday. His management was marked by “a tireless dedication to defending the rights of workers in the sector.”as read in the messages published by the leaders and members of the union.

In August 2016, Pereyra planned a change in the union’s leadership. However, the lack of agreement between Marcelo Rucci, then mayor of Rincón de los Sauces, and Ricardo Astrada, deputy secretary of the union, led him to run for a new term. Internal tensions were evident, although they tried to hide them in public.

During an event at the Rincón gym, Pereyra ensured the unity of the union despite internal conflicts. “There is unity in the union. Rucci and Astrada took the shit out of each other before going on this stage so they could reach you with a single speech, we are all united,” he declared.

Nevertheless, When Astrada spoke, he was greeted with whistles, reflecting the existing tension.. Pereyra had to intervene to calm those present and allow Astrada to speak.

Astrada defended his work in the union, highlighting his work in the shadows and his lack of interest in personal promotion. On the other hand, Rucci asked Pereyra to continue leading the union, which generated strong support from the audience.

Finally, On October 20, 2021, Marcelo Rucci was elected as the new general secretary of the union, obtaining 86% of the votes. Thus, he succeeded Pereyra, who had led the union with firmness and commitment for so many years. With the official Blue and White list, Rucci won decisively, marking the end of an era and the beginning of a new stage for the union.

Guillermo Pereyra: a career that accompanied history

Pereyra led a small union at a time when the activity was dominated by the state oil company. that left production sites to private companies. In the book El Petróleo en Neuquén, 100 years of history, there is a description of the oil union activity and the emergence of Pereyra as a synonym for private workers.

«Despite the strict prohibition of union activity in the initial years of YPF, the oil workers grouped around the Plaza Huincul Oil Union, that operated the fields concessioned to Standard Oil, and the Association of State Workers (ATE), which later became the Plaza Huincul National State Workers and Employees Union, for YPF workers. In the first months of 1940, the first YPF workers’ union attached to ATE was born in Cutral Co. Three years later, the YPF Workers and Employees Union (SOyEYPF) was created.

«The arrival of Peronism affected the union and its historic radical or communist leadership, which maintained a certain distance from the actions of the state and Perón. being known as the “red dogs”. Their adversaries, the “black cats” who supported Peronism, sought to create a union that would function as an interlocutor between the State and the workers. This is how the National Union of State Oil Workers (SUPE) was born. SUPE represented the workers in plants and distilleries, mostly of Peronist affiliation, while in the fields they were part of the SOyEYPF, made up of radicals, communists and socialists opposed to Perón. The coexistence between both organizations did not last long, and they were unified into the SUPE.

«With the privatization process of the nineties and the weakening of SUPE, The Argentine Federation of Private Oil and Gas Unions was strengthened. In 2007, the Private Oil and Gas Union of Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa, led by Guillermo Pereyra, broke away from this federation, gathering the largest number of members among rank-and-file workers. In addition, the Hierarchical Oil Workers Union of Neuquén, Río Negro and La Pampa, with union status since 2005, integrated hierarchical workers and professionals from the sector.

Who was Hugo Rozar?

In August 2014, the then national senator Guillermo Pereyra (Neuquino Popular Movement) published the book “Courage, history of the Private Oil and Gas Union of Río Negro, Neuquén and La Pampa.”

In the text, he recounted the beginnings and growth of the union in the context of hydrocarbon exploitation and national policies.

Pereyra highlighted the courage of the workers led by Hugo Rozar, the first general secretary and founder of the union. Rozar led workers through times of precarious working conditions and persecution of those who tried to organize.

Pereyra also addressed the different stages of Argentine political life and the policies implemented in the hydrocarbon industry. He recalled Juan Domingo Perón’s program with Standard Oil, which did not materialize due to the military coup, and the revitalization of the activity under Arturo Frondizi with the participation of private companies. He mentioned how Arturo Umberto Illia annulled all oil contracts, leading companies to dump their trucks into the sea.

When he presented the book at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Neuquén in front of other union members, businessmen and politicians, Pereyra highlighted the improvement in the working conditions of the sector’s employees under his leadership, comparing them with those of the field workers of the Southern Rebel Patagonia.

In his relationship with governments and businessmen, Pereyra stressed that companies are not enemies, but defend their interests, while workers defend theirs. He emphasized the importance of harmonizing these interests to reach agreements. The book, according to Pereyra, was written to leave a legacy to the new generations of leaders and delegates of the union, urging them to carry out their work with passion and loyalty.

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