British teaching unions back Colombia recruitment project

Justice For Colombia News | on: Tuesday, 1 May 2007
Original source: Justice for Colombia

UK teaching unions are giving vital backing to a project to recruit 2,500 new teachers to the Colombian teaching union federation FECODE.

ATL, NASUWT and NUT, with the support of Thompsons Solicitors and Justice for Colombia, are providing recruiting expertise and financial backing to enable FECODE to create a new generation of teacher trade unionists.

Colombia is the most dangerous place in the world to be a trade unionist and teachers are one of the groups of workers who suffer the most anti- trade union violence. 40 teachers were assassinated in 2006 for their trade union activities. Many more have been forcibly displaced from their homes, have lost their jobs and pensions and struggle to support their families while living in slum conditions.

As a result of the constant fear and oppression, FECODE membership has fallen, leaving the organisation with fewer funds and resources to fight privatisation and to protect its members' employment rights.

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: "ATL is proud to be supporting this project, which offers practical support such as help with producing leaflets that highlight the advantages to new teachers of becoming trade union members and running seminars and advertising to demonstrate the work that FECODE is doing in the face of privatisation."

NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said: "This is a significant opportunity to strengthen FECODE to enable it to continue working in defence of teachers' employment rights and of good quality public education."

NUT general secretary Steve Sinnott added: "We hope that this project will make union leaders and members more aware of the importance of being organised in a union to protect individual teachers and to achieve better working conditions for the collective."

Witney Chavez Sanchez, FECODE president, said: "The support given by trade unions in other countries is vital to us. Colombian schools are being transformed into profit making enterprises and privatisation and deregulation is affecting every part of the education system. Teachers are having their right to free association restricted and state sponsored violence and assassinations against them are carried out with impunity. Unless we can strengthen our organisation we cannot resist."

ENDS

For further information contact Mariela Kohon on 0207 794 3644

Notes for Editors:

1. Justice for Colombia is an NGO campaigning for human and trade union rights in Colombia.



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