The Carbones de La Jagua mining complex, operated by Prodeco and subsidiary of the Swiss transnational company Glencore, and the railway company Fenoco owned by Drummond, have started to dismiss workers who have been on strike since mid-July.
The workers’ union, Sintramienergetica, reports that more than 20,000 workers are involved in the dispute. “The attitude of the employers is absurd. These transnationals are trying to break legitimate strikes by Fenoco and Glencore employees at Carbones de la Jagua in the municipalities of La Jagua and El Paso”, said the union.
The union added that “Fenoco and Carbones de la Jagua refuse to seek a negotiated solution to the strike. On the contrary, they are usurping the role of worker organisations and violating freedom of association by convening mass meetings to pressure the workers into referring the dispute to an Arbitration Board. They are trying to create divisions within the union, evade their responsibilities and violate the legal and constitutional rights of workers and the general public.”
The strikes began on July 19 at Carbones de la Jagua and July 22 at Fenoco, after Glencore, Drummond, Vale and the other main transnational shareholders of Carbones de la Jagua and Fenoco, turned down workers’ demands.
The union is calling on the Colombian government to put a stop to violations of the rights of Colombian workers and citizens by these transnational companies and to guarantee the constitutional right to strike. The union also wants the government to ensure companies comply with international standards and the terms of the labour action programme that forms part of free trade agreements signed by Colombia.
It also urges the government, senators, deputies, mayors, governors and municipal assemblies and councils to speak out and prevent companies from committing these vicious violations of rights in their departments and municipalities.
It has requested the International Labour Organisation to make a prompt and vigorous statement on these violations and requested solidarity from trade unions and human rights organisations.
IndustriALL Global Union wrote a letter of support to the union when it began the strike, in which it expressed solidarity with the “just struggle against the multinational company Glencore, which is known for its anti-worker policies throughout the world”. It now reiterates its solidarity in the context of the latest action taken against the workers.
IndustriALL plans to continue campaigning against the merger between Glencore and Xstrata because of the continuing anti-union behaviour that the company continues to demonstrate globally.