PDVSA Employees Hold Four-Hour Work Stoppage on Friday

Executives, managers and administrative personnel at PDVSA are striking for four hours on Friday, a spokeswoman for the disgruntled workers said. "No one is working and the strike is (being) heeded massively," said the spokeswoman, who declined to be identified. "In the afternoon, after the strike ends, we will gather to decide what to do next week." The spokeswoman added that the workers will hold discussions with the government this weekend.

Executives and white-collar workers won't work Friday between 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT) and 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT), Juan Fernandez, head of PDVSA's finance department and one of the disgruntled managers' main spokesmen, said late Thursday. "We will hold an act of protest in the different refineries and different regions whereby administrative (personnel) will demonstrate in favor of the principal of meritocracy."

Top managers and other PDVSA employees are protesting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's appointment of company president Gaston Parra and a new board of directors. They say the appointments are based on political considerations instead of merit. Chavez has said he won't reconsider the appointments. The board and Parra are both seen as loyal to his government.

Crude oil and refined products production hasn't been affected by Friday's work stoppage, as regular employees are working at installations throughout the country. The head of oil union Fedepetrol, Felix Jimenez, said late Thursday his union won't join the work stoppage. However, he expressed solidarity with it.