Wednesday 28 April 2021
Justice for Colombia offers its solidarity to Colombian trade unions, students, social organisations and citizens participating in the latest National Strike on Wednesday 28 April.
The trade union centres CUT, CGT, CTC and other trade union organisations have called the strike in response to the Colombian government’s tax reform plans which they say will produce a further decline in living standards in what is already one of Latin America’s most unequal countries.
According to trade unions, the tax reforms threaten to exacerbate economic disparities in several ways:
- Economic support falls far short of the unconditional Universal Basic Income for all citizens solicited by trade unions and provides only ‘ridiculously low figures for a tiny part of the population.’
- A rise in VAT on petrol will negatively impact transport workers and domestic producers, while a VAT increase on basic services will further squeeze household budgets for middle- and low-income families
- The VAT rise will also stimulate foreign imports at the expense of domestic production
- At least three million people on low incomes will face higher taxes without tangible improvements in terms of services or provisions
- Public workers face a salary freeze until 2026 in what unions describe as a ‘labour massacre’
- Agricultural producers face higher taxes even though many already struggle to survive economically
- Raising taxes on mid-level pensions will open the door to increased taxation on all pensions
As Colombia experiences a new wave of COVID-19 infections, the FECODE teachers’ union has warned that authorities must ensure schools, workplaces and public spaces are equipped with adequate biosecurity measures.
Trade unions also continue to call for full implementation of the peace agreement and an end to violence against social leaders and human rights defenders, with 904 murdered since the agreement’s signing in November 2016, according to the Special Jurisdiction for Peace. The United Nations has said repeatedly that implementation is critical to improving security, particularly in regions affected by structural poverty and illicit economies.
Colombian authorities must ensure security forces respect citizens’ democratic right to peaceful protest and that any cases of excessive force are fully held to account, following the suspected police killings of at least 13 unarmed citizens last year as well as multiple cases of permanent eye injuries caused by police violence.
Solidarity with the Paro Nacional!