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Acerías Paz del Río workers in Colombia demand improved working conditions

22 January, 2013The Brazilian transnational company Votorantim, which owns 70 per cent of Acerías Paz del Río, has imposed precarious working conditions and outsourced work. In response, the Sintra Paz del Río union is demanding improved conditions for workers and their families.

On 28 December 2012, the Sintra Paz del Río Union, affiliated to Utrammicol and IndustriALL, presented a list of demands for improved living and working conditions for workers and their families, decent wages and the recruitment of more staff. The company has adopted a contemptuous and intransigent attitude.

On 16 March 2007, Votorantim acquired 52.1 per cent of Acerías Paz del Río, S.A. and won control of this large Colombian company, formed in 1948 on the Colombian government’s initiative under the name of the Paz de Río National Steel Company. In that same year, 1948, it began exploitation of the iron and coal mines in Boyacá, as well as the construction of the country’s first steel plant with a blast furnace and rolling mill. On 14 March 2008, Votorantim increased its stake in the company from 52.1% to 72.67% after a formal takeover bid submitted through the Stock Exchange.

 Votorantim is a very powerful company and has succeeded in restricting tax reform and reducing its own tax liabilities in Colombia as well as receiving a 35,000 hectare concession of land rich in high quality industrial coal from the Colombian government. However, it pays very low wages, imposes long working hours and precarious work and outsources work.

IndustriALL and its worldwide membership of more than 50 million members demands that the company stops persecuting unions, violating collective agreements, imposing precarious working conditions and immediately resolves the issues presented by the union. We are asking our affiliates in Brazil to make representations to the company’s head office as a way of countering the global power of transnational companies with global trade union action.

It declares its solidarity with its colleagues at Paz del Rio and the people of Boyacá and supports their action to secure respect for their rights and a response to their demands.