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Colombian unions take action to recruit outsourced workers

17 August, 2015The Colombian trade unions Sintracarbón and USO have been successful in recruiting new members among outsourced workers, as they explained at a recent seminar on how to fight outsourcing, held on 28-29 July 2015 in Bogota.

Recruiting new members among outsourced workers is a step towards achieving direct employment contracts for these workers and making it possible for them to reap the benefits of collective bargaining and collective agreements and recover their right to strike. At the seminar held on 28-29 July, Sintracarbón and USO, trade unions affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, presented their successful experiences in recruiting new members among outsourced workers at Cerrejón and Ecopetrol respectively.

Some union leaders have criticized this initiative because they believe it validates outsourcing. However, the unions have explained that their aim is to establish a platform for action that will make it possible for these workers to achieve better working and living conditions.

Sintraelecol, also affiliated to IndustriALL, followed the example of Sintracarbón and USO. With support from the National Trade Union School (Escuela Nacional Sindical) and IndustriALL, Sintraelecol leaders prepared a list of demands to present to ENEL (Codensa and Emgesa) in Bogota and Cundinamarca and to the Bogota Energy Company (EEB).  With the commitment and support of all workers at energy generation, marketing and transmission workplaces, the union negotiated a collective agreement that covers contract workers as well as the small number of directly employed workers. The company agreed to respect the law and the freedom of association.

“The unions should recruit massive numbers of outsourced workers. They should be sector level unions able to create a favourable balance of forces and defend workers’ rights. We must build on this to negotiate framework collective agreements that cover all outsourced workers so they get the same conditions as directly employed workers. We should all get involved in this fight. Sintracarbon and USO have made impressive progress on this issue”, said Carlos Bustos, IndustriALL Projects Coordinator in Colombia.