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Gerdau sacks a total of 270 workers at two of its plants in Colombia

13 September, 2012Gerdau has dismissed 180 workers from its Tocancipá plant and 90 from its Muña plant. Sintrametal is calling on the government to support the country’s workers. The company has blamed the economic crisis for the dismissals.

At the end of August, the multinational company Gerdau, owner of Diaco S.A. in Colombia carried out mass dismissals of contract workers at two of its plants, Tocancipá and Muña. The company said the dismissals were due to financial problems.

The company said the sudden dismissal of 180 workers at Tocancipá and 90 at Muña was due to difficult conditions in the internal and external markets caused by the economic crisis. It said that a fall in demand for steel in Colombia combined with increased competition from other countries, such as Mexico, had led to excess supply.

The dismissed workers were not union members so they were an easy target for the company.  Sintrametal, which represents workers at Gerdau’s plants in Tuta, Duitama and Cota has signalled its disagreement with Diaco Gerdau about the dismissals. “We understand the company’s financial situation, but it should seek other mechanisms, with the help of the national government. There is no need to cut the workforce, which only serves to make the country poorer”, it said.

Sintrametal, which is part of UTRAMMICOL, an IndustriALL Global Union affiliate, has asked the Ministry of Labour to intervene to stop the company from continuing to implement such measures. It has also called on the national government to ensure that the free trade agreement with Turkey includes clauses to protect Colombian workers and national industry and to provide incentives to promote the use of resources and technology by national companies to enable them to compete with other countries.

IndustriALL Global Union has written to the management of Diaco S.A. expressing its concern about the mass dismissals, solidarity with the dismissed workers and support for Sintrametal’s actions.