US Steelworkers Demand Mining Company Ends Persecution of Unionists

News from Colombia | on: Sunday, 19 June 2011

The US United Steelworkers Union has written to the President of Vale Coal Colombia Ltd, Zenaldo Olivera, to express the union’s grave concern at the treatment of workers at the company’s El Hatillo mine.

Workers at the mine in Cesar Department in northern Colombia organised a union in early June but the company refused to recognise the organisation and began to carry out reprisals against workers and the union organisers.

The letter cites the holding of ‘security meetings’ where managers threatened workers with the sack unless they left the union, and also how one union leader was locked into his office and threatened on June 12th, causing the man to suffer heart attack-like symptoms from which he has yet to recover.

The USW President also notes that many workers at the mine are sub-contracted by ‘bolsas de trabajo’ in violation of the terms of the April 7th Action Plan signed by President Santos, which requires the Colombian government to take action against abuses of labour rights.

The USW demands that Vale Coal Colombia Ltd end its unlawful labour practices, immediately recognise the union and cease its harassment of the workers.

To read the letter click on the document above right.

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