No End to Drummond Strike in Sight, Further Attacks on Workers

News from Colombia | on: Saturday, 18 April 2009

Workers at a railway owned by the US mining multinational Drummond have entered the fourth week of a strike which has prevented the company from moving huge quantities of coal from their inland mine to the Caribbean Coast for export. Rather than negotiate with the trade union involved, the company, and their subsidiary FENOCO which operates the railway, seem to want to sit the strike out and are refusing to recognise the union, despite the fact that it represents over half of all the staff. Yesterday saw further violence aimed at those on strike.

The FENOCO railway workers walked out on March 24th after the firm refused to recognise their union or negotiate an improvement in conditions. Those on strike were brutally attacked by police earlier this month and this was repeated on April 17th when police and soldiers attacked picket lines and ordered workers to return home. However, a curfew that was imposed in an effort to break the strike failed after thousands of local people took to the streets in the towns where the strike is centred: Bosconia and Chiriguana in Cesar department and Fundacion, Sevilla, Cienaga and Santa Marta in neighbouring Magdalena department.

The union accuses Drummond of ignoring Colombian and international labour rights legislation and complains that the Colombian authorities, instead of enforcing the law, have taken the side of the employers. It is thought that the majority of production at the huge Drummond-owned 'La Loma' opencast coal mine in northern Colombia has been drastically reduced as a result of the strike on the railway, though the company is apparently using trucks to transport a limited amount of coal up to the coast. For further information see Strike Closes Down Multinational Coal Operations in Colombia and Striking Workers Brutally Attacked by Colombian Police

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