Workers at Tenaris TuboCaribe in Colombia are holding a series of peaceful demonstrations against the company’s violations of their fundamental rights, and its dismissal and sanctioning of union leaders.
Trade unions Sintratucar, Sinaltrametal and Sinaltratenaris held a demonstration on 19 October and will take further action every Friday, as TuboCaribe, which is owned by steel multinational Tenaris, has refused to negotiate with them over their list of demands.
Workers are also protesting against the lack of pay rises in 2017 and 2018, the violations of their right to freedom of association, and the threats made against union leaders. In addition, they are calling for dismissed union members to be given their jobs back and for the company to withdraw its demands for union protection to be rescinded.
What’s more, the company’s head of human resources and its industrial relations manager have held meetings with non-union workers on the factory floor in which they gave the workers false information and distorted the truth. They told the workers that the company had not increased their wages because the trade unions didn’t want it to, and union members have received anonymous death threats as a result.
In addition to holding protests, the workers have sought other ways to resolve the conflict. They petitioned the Special Committee for the Handling of Conflicts Referred to the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Colombia’s ministry of labour, and then filed complaints with the ILO and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
It is not only in Colombia that Tenaris takes such an arrogant and negligent attitude towards its workers – unions in other countries have faced similar problems.In Guatemala, for instance, IndustriALL Global Union filed a complaint with the OECD against multinational steel manufacturer Ternium, which, like Tenaris, is part of Techint Group, after it refused to recognize and negotiate with a trade union in the country.
IndustriALL recently informed some of Tenaris' clients of the company's union repression in Colombia. These clients include ENI and Equinor, both of which have entered into Global Framework Agreements with IndustriALL.
IndustriALL is working with the Tenaris Ternium Workers' World Council to set up an ongoing worldwide campaign against the companies' violations of workers' rights in certain countries and to ensure that both firms and their holding company, Techint, recognize the World Council and establish a dialogue with IndustriALL. They will hold an international meeting in Mexico on 26 and 27 November.
"IndustriALL and the World Council will come up with strategies to ensure that the current campaign is a success and to establish a strong and mature dialogue with Tenaris and Ternium, with the aim of preventing and resolving disputes and creating dignified working conditions for Tenaris and Ternium workers around the world," said IndustriALL's general secretary Valter Sanches.