Pemex Union Workers Postpone Strike

Union oil workers at Pemex have agreed to extend the contract negotiation deadline for thirty days. The deadline was set to expire at midnight July 31st. The union has rejected the company's offer of a 5.5-percent wage increase and threatened to call a strike at midnight, when the official negotiating period ran out. However, the union decided to postpone any decision on a strike for 30 days, and met with Pemex representatives to continue talks on salary increases, union spokesman Victor Garcia said. The Mexican Oil Workers Union is holding out for a 15% wage increase.

Earlier, Pemex said it was offering 5.5% in wages and 1.5% in additional benefits. About 90,000 of the company's roughly 130,000 workers are members of the union. Pemex confirmed that "despite efforts by both sides, no definitive agreement has yet been reached. Pemex reiterates its complete willingness to continue the talks in order to reach a favorable solution."

The wage negotiations come at a time of apparent tension between the government of President Vicente Fox and oil workers union boss Carlos Romero Deschamps, who is a congressman of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI. The government has accused the former director of Pemex of channeling Pemex funds through the union to the PRI's 2000 presidential campaign, angering the PRI.