November 15, 2011 / 4:34 PM / 8 years ago

UPDATE 1-Argentina orders oil workers to call off strike

* Walkout would have hit Neuquen, Rio Negro and La Pampa
    * Work stoppage had been scheduled to last 24 hours
    * Talks to begin Wednesday afternoon at Labor Ministry
    (Adds context, quote from labor union spokesman)
    BUENOS AIRES, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Argentina's Labor Ministry
on Tuesday ordered oil and natural gas industry workers to call
off the strike that they had planned for later in the day,
union and government officials told Reuters.
    The planned protest, to demand better working conditions,
was to begin at 8 p.m. local time (2300 GMT) in the provinces
of Neuquen, Rio Negro and La Pampa. The work stoppage had been
scheduled to last 24 hours. [ID:nN1E7AD1U1]
    Private Oil and Gas Union spokesman Eduardo Tavella said
the workers would abide by the order and that talks between
labor and management would start Wednesday afternoon at the
Labor Ministry.
    "We are not seeking conflict for the sake of conflict," he
said. "Solutions are arrived at when people sit down to talk."
    A series of strikes in the southern province of Santa Cruz
hit Argentina's oil output earlier this year. Inflation running
at an annual rate of more than 20 percent is fueling labor
disputes in the South American country.
    The area that would have been covered by the Tuesday night
strike is seen by many as the key to future energy exploration
and production in Argentina.
    YPF, Argentina's largest oil and gas company, confirmed
shale energy resources of nearly 1 billion barrels of oil
equivalent in Neuquen last week. [ID:nN1E7A725Y]
    "The Labor Ministry late on Monday ordered negotiations to
be held, and the order has been complied with," a Labor
Ministry source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
   (Reporting by Karina Grazina and Nicolas Misculin;editing by
Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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