EO Receives Complaint Regarding Certification of Labor Practices at Colombia Oil Site

Equitable Origin has received its first official complaint, from the U.S. labor organization AFL-CIO. Submitted in the form of a letter addressed to EO’s former Chief Executive Officer Stephen Newton (now a member of EO’s Board of Directors), the complaint included claims of practices at the certified Quifa and Rubiales oil fields operated by Pacific Rubiales Energy (PRE) that violate EO100™ provisions for fair labor and working conditions. EO´s Vice President of Standards and Stakeholder Engagement Soledad Mills has acknowledged receipt of the letter and has initiated internal processes to investigate the concerns it raises. Honoring labor rights and fair and lawful treatment of workers is part of the foundation of the EO100™ Standard, and we take any suggestion that those principles are not being observed at certified sites extremely seriously.

Complaints and appeals are a standard component of a healthy and well-functioning certification system. Honest and constructive criticism of the EO100™ Standard and certified sites help make the Standard and the EO System stronger and more effective at driving positive change in the oil and gas industry. The ability of stakeholders to bring concerns related to certified sites is core to our mission of encouraging operators to improve their practices.

The complaint submitted by the AFL-CIO will now be reviewed in accordance with EO Procedures for Certification System Comments, Complaints and Appeals, with an official response due within 60 days. The review process will include, but is not limited to, the following steps:

    1. EO will relay the complaint to the certified site’s operator, Pacific Rubiales Energy, and the Certification Body that performed the site audit, Deloitte Colombia.
    2. PRE and Deloitte will review the details of the complaint and share any information they have related to the complaint.
    3. EO will convene a panel to review the complaint and the responses supplied by PRE and Deloitte Colombia and determine the appropriate follow up actions. The members of the panel will be drawn from members of the Standards Board of Directors, the Technical Committee, and the Assurance Oversight Committee.
    4. A summary of the findings and decisions related to the complaint will be made public.

As an ISEAL member organization, EO has clear parameters and procedures to guide the review of complaints and grievances tied to its work. The complaint from AFL-CIO offers the first chance to activate these procedures, and we look forward to applying them under real-world conditions. The procedures will guide us as we review the complaint within the clearly defined scope of the EO100™ Standard and our certification process. Equitable Origin certification applies to individual oil and/or gas development sites and practices at those sites at the time of the certification audit (the Quifa and Rubiales site was audited in April 2014) and one year prior. As the Operator of the certified site, PRE is ultimately responsible for all practices there that relate to EO100™ certification, but certification does not extend to the company as a whole or to its practices outside of the geographic or temporal scope of the certification. These limits are essential to keeping the EO System manageable and effective by ensuring commitments to environmental and social responsibility are carried out on the ground.

Whatever the outcome of the complaint review process, we are pleased that the certification of the Quifa and Rubiales sites has served as the catalyst for a discussion of practices there, and that the EO System has provided a point of access for a stakeholder group to make its concerns known. We are confident in the integrity of our processes and procedures, and look forward to transparently applying them as we continue to strive toward improving the oil and gas industry one site at a time.

We will provide a public notice when the complaint review process is complete along with access to documentation of each step in that process. Until that time, we invite submission of any questions regarding the complaint or the review process to contact@equitableorigin.com.