Colombian Union Leaders Write to US Congress
News from Colombia |
on: Friday, 23 November 2007
The leaders of Colombia's three trade union centres – the CUT, CTC and CGT – along with the head of the Pensioners Confederation of Colombia, between them representing well over a million people, have written to US Congressmen outlining some of their concerns about what is occurring in Colombia.
The letter, sent on November 19th, was signed by the leaders of each organisation and argued that the Colombian Government was following anti-trade union policies in an effort to weaken the Colombian trade union movement – in clear violation of both the Colombian constitution and ILO Conventions.
In particular the letter mentioned that of 2,535 trade unionists assassinated in recent years, in less than 1% of the cases has anyone been convicted – virtually total impunity. The union leaders also reported on a huge increase in death threats against trade unionists.
The union leaders also pointed out that the Colombian regime continues to ignore the right to association and the right to collective bargaining, pointing out that just 60,000 workers were covered by collective bargaining agreements out of an economically active population of 20 million.
The letter also expressed concern at the ongoing activities of paramilitary death squads. The Colombian regime claims that the paramilitaries have demobilised and are no longer active while the trade unions argue that they continue to carry out crimes.
The main objective of the letter was to try and persuade the US Congress not to ratify a pending Free Trade Agreement between the US and Colombia. The unions believe that the Agreement will have a disastrous impact on the livelihoods of Colombian workers and on the population more generally.