During the period between May to July 2011,the THE INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR TRADE UNION RIGHTS received the following reports from Colombia, including serious violations of trade union rights:
On 11 May, unionists members of the national transports’ union, branch Madrid Cundinamarca Department, were sacked by the bus transport company – SOTRAM S.A., in connection with their activism as members of the trade union.
On 16 May, Jhonny Alfredo Sierra, a member of the Córdoba region teachers’ union ADEMACOR, was assassinated in the town of La Apartada, Department of Córdoba.
On 25 May, Yesid Calvache Saavedra, President of the Putumayo region oil workers’ union SINTRAPETROPUTUMAYO, received threatening phone calls from paramilitary groups.
On 13 June, Fernando Carvajal, member of the executive of the Putumayo region oil workers’ union SINTRAPETROPUTUMAYO, received threatening phone calls from paramilitary groups.
On 19 June, Wilson Saenz Manchola, member of the Executive Committee of the Valle del Cauca Branch of the trade union confederation CUT, narrowly escaped an assassination attempt when an armed man attacked him.
On 20 June, more than 1100 oil workers assembled in a peaceful protest in Puerto Gaitan. The dispute is centred on workers contracted by Pacific Rubiales Energy, who have been protesting against the company’s refusal to negotiate a series of labour issues. The workers protest that their labour rights are being violated, that the company has fixed low wages unilaterally and that workers are poorly treated and kept in unhealthy conditions in their work camps. The Colombian oil workers’ union USO, has reported that oil workers were attacked by Colombian police firing tear gas, baton rounds and throwing stun grenades, resulting in several workers being injured.
On 22 June, Alina Esther Díaz Arrieta, General Secretary of the national foodworkers’ union SINTRAIMAGRA, was sacked by the company IMAGRA, in connection with her activism as leader of the trade union.
On 22 July, members of the executive committee of the Valle del Cauca Branch of the trade union confederation CUT and members of the executive committee of region farmers’ union SINALTRACAMPO, together with the unionists and human rights defenders Wilson Saens, Diego Escobar, Álvaro José Vera, Omar Romero, Edgar Alberto Villegas, Henry Domínguez, Oscar Franco Pérez, Elizabeth Ramírez, Jairo González y Rubí Martínez Velasco, received a letter containing death threats signed by paramilitary groups.
On 23 July, all 44 teachers of the public high school in Las Delicias, a village in Tierraalta, Department of Cordoba, members of the Cordoba region teachers’ union ADEMACOR, sought refuge in the city of Monteria, the department’s capital, after being threatened by paramilitary groups.On 26 July, Rafael Tobón Zea, a member of the Antioquia region of the mineworkers’ union SINTRAMIENERGETICA, was assassinated by unknown gunmen in the town of Segovia, Department of Antioquia.
ICTUR has written to the Colombian authorities to protest against the continuing violations of trade union rights. ICTUR insists that the authorities must implement and ensure full respect for the international legal standards that protect freedom of association. For more information contact ICTUR: firstname.lastname@example.org If you want to take action in support of these cases you can send letters of protest to the Colombian authorities at the following addresses:
President of the Republic of Colombia
Dr. Juan Manuel Santos
Palacio de Nariño, Carrera 8 No.7-26 Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Fax: + 57 1 337 5890
Minister of the Interior and Justice
German Vargas Lleras
Carrera 8a, No.13 – 31, piso 4, Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia
Tel / Fax: ++ 57 1 4443100 Ext. 2410