With 13 accidents in one month, including five in one day, IndustriALL affiliate Sintracarbón is calling for improved health and safety at the El Cerrejón mine in Colombia. Although no fatalities, some workers suffered disabling injuries.
The National Union of Coal Industry Workers (Sintracarbón) organized a peaceful occupation of the premises of Coomeva, the health service provider in the city of Riohacha, Colombia. Linking arms, workers requested a meeting with Coomeva and the El Cerrejón company to discuss improvements in health and safety at work.
On 23 August the company met Coomeva and union representatives. The meeting was attended by company vice presidents and managers of the coal mining, port and handling sectors. The union presented photographic evidence and dates relating to the standard of equipment and working conditions.
The company is not carrying out the responsible mining it preaches and is not complying with safety standards. Management still authorizes the use of substandard equipment that has maintenance problems,
said Igor Díaz López, Sintracarbón’s safety committee coordinator.
Sintracarbon explained that the company’s new policy of setting the production target at one million has increased the pace of work, directly effecting workers and causing the high number of accidents.
The company said it does not prioritize productivity over workers’ safety and welfare but agreed that the situation described by the union shows that the company “is not dealing with health and safety issues as it should”.
They accepted that the new policy is a mistake and agreed to make changes so that maintenance and production comply strictly with safety standards. Measures will be taken in line with those suggested by the workers in order to deal with the problems. We hope they will act quickly to remedy the situation,
Díaz López concluded.
Finally, the director of IndustriALL, Fernando Lopes said on the matter:
"We cannot allow companies to continue operating without respecting safety standards. Having a safe workplace is one of the priorities of IndustriALL Global Union, that is why we support the action of Sintracarbón."