Police Repression Forces Striking Workers Back to Work
News from Colombia |
on: Tuesday, 21 April 2009
A brutal attack by over 700 police officers backed by tanks against striking railway workers on Sunday has forced an end to a month-long strike by workers employed by FENOCO, a subsidiary of US mining multinational Drummond. The workers, who operate the railway that links Drummond-owned coal mines in northern Colombia to the Caribbean Coast, walked out on March 24th after FENOCO and Drummond refused to recognise and negotiate with SINTRAIME, a union that more than half of the 600 workers on the railway had joined.
The railway began running again yesterday after brutal attacks on picket lines forced the workers to concede. Several of the key organisers of the strike, including the regional leader of SINTRAIME, Jose de Jesus Orozco, were injured whilst others, including Mr Orzco and union activists Anibal Perez, Reinaldo Sanchez, David Jimenez and Deivis Calletano were also detained by the security forces.
Throughout the strike the companies involved refused to negotiate with the union, behaviour that SINTRAIME described as a violation of ILO Conventions and Colombian legislation. The Colombian authorities refused to intervene and, according to the union, even refused to call on the employers to fulfil their obligations under Colombian law. Several international trade union organisations, including the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Union, ICEM, which represents millions of workers around the world, have condemned the attitude of both the Colombian regime and Drummond.