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Job seekers line up in Tabasco. Job seekers line up in Tabasco.

15,000 turn up to seek work at new oil refinery in Tabasco

68-year-old job seeker who hasn't worked for six years waited for nearly 24 hours

More than 15,000 people lined up for as long as 24 hours in Villahermosa, Tabasco, to sign up for jobs building the state’s new oil refinery.

While waiting in a queue that eventually grew to more than four kilometers in length, job seekers were forced to endure both the hot Tabasco sun and rain, according to a report in the newspaper El Universal.

But with more than 20,000 jobs expected to be on offer during the three years it will take to build the Dos Bocas refinery, there was ample incentive for residents of Tabasco – which has the highest unemployment rate in the country – and bordering states to put up with the long wait and discomfort.

The Tabasco government announced a week ago that it would open an employment center at the Tabasco Park in the state capital at 10:00am Monday but the most enthusiastic job seekers began arriving Sunday morning.

Among the first to arrive was Bartolomé Paredes, a 68-year-old man from Minatitlán, Veracruz, who traveled for three hours to reach Villahermosa along with other residents of the violence-plagued city.

“I haven’t worked for six years,” he told El Universal while waiting for the job center to open.

“We’ve looked for opportunities but there aren’t any so we have to wait,” Paredes said, adding that he had scraped by in recent years taking on any odd jobs that he could find.

He claimed to have 40 years’ experience in the petroleum sector, explaining that he has worked as a welder and coppersmith on refinery and oil platform projects.

Paredes said he had full confidence in President López Obrador’s pledge to build the new refinery in three years, although experts have questioned the state oil company’s technical capacity to execute the project.

“Of course we have faith that this refinery will materialize, he’s our leader, he’s the messiah that we were waiting for, he’s come to save the country and the southeast,” he said.

José Luis Olivera, a 40-year-old Minatitlán man with an education degree, said he was hopeful of gaining employment in the construction of the new refinery because union corruption in his home state makes work hard to come by for people who refuse to pay for the privilege.

“We lined up since last night in the rain . . . we hope that they give us the opportunity to work,” he said. “I’ve worked at several refineries . . . as a technical assistant.”

Among the thousands of other people who lined up yesterday were engineers, welders, electricians and even unemployed people with few skills and little education but a lot of hope.

Due to the huge response from people looking for work, management graduate Doralida García Salvador said that applying for a job was “like looking for a needle in a haystack” but added that she had faith that the refinery project would help to reduce the high levels of unemployment in Tabasco.

López Obrador officially launched construction of the US $8-billion refinery on Sunday even though some studies for the project haven’t been carried out and it lacks all the required permits.

The president announced last month that Pemex and the Secretariat of Energy will be responsible for building the refinery because the bids made by private companies were too high and their estimated time frames to complete the project were too long.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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