Yesterday President Nicolas Maduro announced the completion of the nationalisation of companies Venprecar and Orinoco Iron, in Bolivar state.
Venprecar and Orinoco Iron produce iron briquettes. Orinoco Iron is the largest hot briquette iron (HBI) producer in the Americas, with a capacity of 2.2 million metric tonnes of HBI per year. Venprecar was owned by the International Briquettes Holding division of Sivensa. It began operating in March 1991. Sivensa is the largest private-sector Venezuelan steel corporation, while the state owned Sidor is the largest overall.
The nationalisation of the twin companies began in 2009. President at the time, Hugo Chavez, said the companies should gradually be placed under worker control. Maduro announced that the two companies and other state owned briquette plants will have one single administrative board and will be brought together under the newly created National Briquette Consortium (CBN).
Minister for industries, Ricardo Menendez, explained that the single administrative board was necessary because “it’s one single process”. He said Ivan Hernandez would be coordinating it. Hernandez worked for Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) for 30 years and was manager of the Amuay refinery.
Venprecar will be called Briquetera del Caroni, and Orinoco Iron will be called Briquetera del Orinoco.
“Of course, the private owners of these companies, which so often based their economic power on the resources of all Venezuelans, can continue doing what they like with their commercial brand,” Menendez said.
Leader of Orinoco Iron’s union Sintraori, Aliro Guillen said that during the process of transition to state ownership, the boss “created obstacles” when workers fought for benefits. However, “during the process of transition…the workers have benefited…in 36 years of worker life there has never been so many benefits as there are now”.
Those benefits include wage standardisation, enforcing a minimum of one day of rest per week, transport, two weeks new parenthood paid leave, full time work for contract workers, medicine for those with chronic illnesses, and Credilab cards with monthly credit for food purchase.
Maduro also announced the creation of a Sovereign Commission for the Commercialisation of the State Primary Industry Companies. He said the objective of the commission was to ensure “greater transparency” of the sale of the Guayana Venezuelan Corporation’s (CVG) products. It will define sale prices and use a single bank account, in an effort to combat corruption. CVG, also located in Bolivar state, groups together state owned iron, bauxite, steel, aluminium and other mineral companies.