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Trade union centres oppose Colombian OECD membership

3 April, 2017Colombia’s trade union centres are firm in their opposition against the country joining the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), because of persistent attacks on basic rights.

“Approval of OECD membership for our country, without having resolved serious problems and in a context of impunity regarding the more than 3,000 trade unionists killed in the last 30 years, would completely undermine the Colombian trade union movement’s position regarding its demands on the government and its international denunciations,” state the trade union centres.

Since the government signed a peace agreement with the FARC, Colombia has become a strong candidate to join the OECD countries. The three trade union centres – CUT, CTC and CGT – oppose entry because, they say, the government of Juan Manuel Santos has not complied with the commitments it made regarding the informal labour market, subcontracting, the labour inspectorate, collective bargaining and violence against trade unionists.

President Santos applied for Colombian membership of the OECD in 2013.

Membership of the OECD requires arduous accession procedures at various public policy committees.

In a letter to the organization, the trade union centres say: “We respectfully request the indefinite suspension of negotiations for Colombia’s membership of the OECD.” They also attached a series of documents to support their case.

Recent ITUC and ILO reports show that the government is a long way from resolving major labour problems. The ITUC’s Index 2016 describes Colombia as one of ten countries where workers face the worst forms of violence, including killings, threats, abductions and physical violence.

Similarly, the 2017 report of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations notes the government of Colombia has still not implemented Conventions 87 and 98 on freedom of association, the right to join a trade union and the right to collective bargaining.

The Colombian trade union centres therefore call on the international trade union movement to express support for their request to suspend negotiations, on the eve of the meetings of the specialized committees that are due to take place 9- 11 April to define the procedures for Colombia’s accession to membership.

IndustriALL Global Union expresses its total support for the request made by the Colombian trade union centres.

“It would be absurd for the OECD to accept membership of Colombia, in a context of cuts, inequalities and violations of basic rights,” says Fernando Lopes, director at IndustriALL.