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Police evict striking Gerdau workers in Colombia

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9 February, 2017Police in Colombia have evicted 47 workers, all trade union members, from the Gerdau Diaco plant, where they had been protesting peacefully since November last year.

Workers at the Gerdau Diaco plant in Yumbo, Colombia, decided to occupy the metalworking company on 8 November 2016, after being informed that the company had been sold.

Told by company management to choose between dismissal or voluntary retirement with small compensation, union members from IndustriALL Global Union affiliates Sintradiaco and Sintrametal occupied the plant to protect their jobs.

On 1 February, the new owner, Maurice Armitagela, mayor of Cali, ordered police to evict the workers from the plant using the new police code supposed to promote peace and respect among Colombians.

In addition to the evictions, police detained three Sintradiaco leaders and tried to prosecute the union’s vice-president, Carlos Carvajal. The three were later released without charge on 2 February.

IndustriALL Global Union is calling for solidarity with the workers to help them get their jobs back,

says IndustriALL’s project coordinator in Colombia, Carlos Bustos.

The coordinator of the Gerdau World Workers’ Council, Jorge Garcia-Orgales, says:

We support peace with social justice in Colombia but it takes more than the demobilisation of insurgent forces to achieve peace. It requires guarantees for the rights of workers and all Colombian citizens.

A letter from the Council and IndustriALL to Gerdau’s CEO André Bier Gerdau Johannpeter is calling on the company to

guarantee the physical security of the workers who refused to accept the compensation and respect for national and international law on the resolution of labour disputes.