IndustriALL leadership met with the Colombian ambassador in Geneva on 4 March to raise the serious human and trade union right violations that trade unionists face in Colombia.
IndustriALL General Secretary Jyrki Raina, Assistant General Secretary Fernando Lopes and Rights Officer Suzanna Miller, met with Ambassador Ms. Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos at the Permanent Mission of Colombia to the United Nations in Geneva.
The IndustriALL delegation raised grave concern over serious violations that had occurred in recent months against its affiliates such as the murder of a member of the Unión Sindical Obrera de la Industria Petróleo (USO) in December 2012, death threats received by Tenaris leaders, as well as by Sintracarbón's leaders and negotiating committee members since they began bargaining in November 2012. Jyrki Raina questioned the ambassador on the government’s failure to deal with these issues and measures taken to genuinely protect trade unionists.
Ms. Alicia Victoria Arango Olmos was aware of the issues raised and recognized the scale of the violence but insisted that it was not an issue which is specific only to trade unionists but to all Colombians, she guaranteed that work was being done by the Colombian government and that progress has been made and insisted that unions have come a long way in the past 15 years. Unfortunately all reports to date indicate that Colombia still suffers from the highest number of trade unionists murdered worldwide and the question of impunity remains very acute.
“The ambassador promised to take the issues that we raised to the government and we will continue to follow the developments,” said Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL General Secretary.
Although some progress has been made, the enduring violence against the Colombian trade union movement continues to curse the country and trade unionists are being killed and intimidated. While some efforts have been made to investigate these crimes, the majority of the cases reported by trade union organizations remain unresolved.
“We had a hard but frank discussion with the Colombian ambassador. We will continue to support Colombian workers and fight for the government to protect workers’ rights in Colombia,” said Fernando Lopes, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary.