Catering for the coal industry

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  • Publicado : 15 de septiembre de 2010
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Catering for the Coal Industry Introduction
Colombia is the sixth largest exporter of coal and the largest coal producer in South America. Production has increased by 80% in the past ten years. Drummond, a US based corporation, own and manage the Drummond open cast coal mine in La Loma, Cesar in the north of Colombia. In 2007 they exported nearly 23million tons of coal to the US and Europe.Approximately 10000 people are employed to work in the mine, 400 of which work in the catering section.

I am with La Loma branch of Sinaltrainal, the national union of food and drinks workers, listening and documenting the conditions in which they work.1 This report is focused on the lives of those who prepare and serve the food necessary for the mine to function. They want people outside of LaLoma to hear of their inhumane, dangerous and humiliating working conditions. Reading and sharing this report helps to break the invisibility of the exploitation within the global coal infrastructure.


I am part of Espacio Bristol-Colombia. We work in Colombia with the Red de Hermandad, a network of social organisation, unions, small scale farming organisations, students groups, womans'groups who campaign and work together for a socially just peace in Colombia.

Drummond and Subcontraction
Drummond is a privately owned US Corporation which principally engages in mining. In the late 1980s, taking advantage of the neoliberal deregulation that was occurring Drummond acquired the mining rights to La Loma coal and a Caribbean port Coal exports from La Loma grew from 1 million tonsin 1995 when production began to 22.9 million tons in 2007 and profits reached $1.15 billion in 2007. They are legally obliged to pay 10% royalties for this 25000 acre mine but on occasions they have been taken to court to force them to pay. The money has not arrived into the communities most affected by the mining operations. Drummond also owns the mining rights to El Descanso (55000 acres) dueto open in February 2009, Rincon Hondo and Similoa reserves. According to their website they "controls reserves totalling over 2 billion tons” and that “Drummond has an 5% share of the global coal export trade, making it the equal fifth largest coal exporter in the world”2. The majority of Colombia's coal exports are shipped to European markets.

In December 2005 Caves GHL, an Ecuadoriancompany, won the contract to provide catering and hospitality for La Loma, Drummond. I as told that this contract was worth £13.75 million annually. In the last month Drummond renewed this contract with Caves. The value is unknown but the union reasonably assume it is much larger as the workforce and costs have grown. All of the catering and hospitality workers, except for the administration who areemployed directly by Caves GHL, have permanent contracts with Servicooptel. Servicooptel is a supposed workers’ cooperative, common in Colombia as a way for Companies avoiding meeting the necessary legal requirement for their employees. In the case of Caves GHL, the union has discovered that Servicooptel is not registered in the Chamber of Commerce. They have falsified documents and created afaçade of a Cooperative that does not exist.

“We have contracts with Servicooptel but we are employees of Caves. There is no separate administration. Caves pays us and writes Servicooptel on the payslip.”3 At the time of conducting these interviews there are rumours that mass sackings are coming. Despite the permanent contracts, Caves couldachieve this by ending their supposed contract with Servicooptel. Caves claims that the union does not exist, as they are members of a cooperative and thus cannot unionise. Yet the evidence shows clearly that they are employees of Caves and that Servicooptel does not exist. Caves GHL carry out the events and actions documented in this report. However it is important to recognize that Drummond is...
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