NASUWT teachers union concerned over violence against Colombian trade unionists

The NASUWT trade union of teachers in Britain and Northern Ireland has written to the Colombian government to express concern over violence against trade unionists and social activists. The letter also highlights violence against teachers in Colombia: according to the International Trade Union Confederation’s Global Index 2019, thirteen teachers were murdered in Colombia last year.

You can read the full letter below.

Minister Maria Victoria Angulo Ministry of Education
Calle 43 No. 57-14
National Administrative Centre, CAN Bogota

12 July 2019

Dear Minister Angulo,

I am writing on behalf of NASUWT, the Teachers’ Union, with regards to the shocking rise in murders of trade unionists in Colombia. The NASUWT represents teachers, headteachers and principals throughout Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

According to the International Trade Union Confederation, 34 trade unionists were murdered in Colombia in 2018, accounting for almost two-thirds of worldwide cases. This is a huge increase on the 15 murders committed the previous year, which even then made Colombia the most dangerous country in the world for labour organising.

We note that teachers are the most targeted sector, with thirteen teacher trade unionists murdered in 2018. These killings occurred as Colombia experienced nationwide strike action in the public education sector. FECODE says the government has not implemented agreements made to resolve the extended strike in 2017.

It is extremely worrying that violence against trade unionists has increased despite the signing of the 2016 peace agreement. We were among many in the international community who hoped the peace process would see Colombia usher in a new era of stability.

The NASUWT welcomes important advances around reintegration and the FARC’s political participation. However, as the United Nations recently stated, there are legitimate concerns over the violence affecting many regions and polarisation around the peace process.

The UN has repeatedly said the peace agreement is critical for ending violence against trade unionists and social activists, but that the slow rate of implementation is a cause for concern. We therefore urge your government to fully implement the agreement, including security measures to protect vulnerable communities and individuals.

We also hope that the government will fulfil the terms of previous agreements reached with FECODE for the benefit of all Colombian teachers and, most importantly, their students.

Yours sincerely,

Chris Keates (Ms), General Secretary (Acting)

Patrick Roach, Deputy General Secretary