Sunday, April 12, 2009

The following appeal is from the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). It's about recent repression against public sector unionists in Colombia.
Colombia liquidates Cali unions:
Paul Moist is asking CUPE members(and others-Molly) to send email to president Alvaro Uribe Velez after riot police and soldiers evicted city workers in Cali, Colombia and liquidated their union.

The Colombian government has been trying to privatize municipal sanitation and utility services for years.

Despite public opposition and the unions' efforts to prove the viability of their services, in January, Colombia sold off three of the four garbage pick up routes in Cali. They also closed the city landfill site.

The government moved in Mar. 26, dissolving EMSIRVA, the city-owned waste disposal company, using riot police and soldiers to evict the workers from their workplace.

The move puts 439 union members out of work, including Maria Fernanda Bolanos, who toured Canada in 2008 as part of a solidarity exchange.

Meanwhile, at EMCALI, the municipal utilities company, two union executives and four fired workers have begun a hunger strike to protest a government-appointed trustee's decision to fire still more union members. (In all, 54 union members have been fired since the government took over the company in 2004.)

The unions are asking for email and letters to Colombia's president and cabinet ministers. The government needs to know the world is watching.

Sixteen members of Cali's public sector unions have been killed since 2004, including union executive Carlos Alberto Chicaiza Betancourt.

"This is privatization at gun point," said Moist. "It's chilling to think that the people who are doing this are those with whom our government has just signed a trade agreement."
Please go to THIS LINK to send the following letter to the President of Colombia.
I am writing to express my dismay and outrage over your government's treatment of city workers in Cali.

The murder, harassment and intimidation of union workers who resist privatization will not go unnoticed.

These actions give Canadians one more reason to oppose the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

I am asking you:
* respect the lives and physical integrity of the workers and community members in Cali;
* immediately halt the privatization of EMSIRVA and EMCALI
* end all reprisals against union members, respect their labour rights and reinstate SINTRAEMCALI members recognize their union.

I will continue to speak out against any such agreements as long as your government persists in ignoring the critical situation of human rights in your country.

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