Saturday, November 28, 2009

The following story is from the American AFL-CIO blog. the country of Colombia is one of the most repressive in the western hemisphere and it is particularly unsafe for those who oppose the narco-terrorists who hold power as American allies in that country. Molly has blogged repeatedly on this subject before, telling just how dangerous it is to be an ordinary unionist in that country, fighting for simple rights and a slight improvement in living conditions. Just as here in Canada the political elite in the USA want to reward the Colombian government for its sins of both commission and omission by granting a free trade agreement with that country. Just like here in Canada labour is opposed to awarding murders such privileges. Here's the story from the AFL-CIO giving one more reason for their opposition.
Colombians Mourn Colleagues Killed in Past Two Months:
by James Parks, Nov 24, 2009
When 14 Colombian trade union members were in the United States for a training program, they were unable to forget just how dangerous it is to support unions in their home country. During the two months they were here, four of their colleagues were assassinated.

In a memorial service at AFL-CIO in Washington, D.C., yesterday, we joined the Solidarity Center and the Colombian workers to honor those who were killed and to reaffirm our determination to fight for workers’ and human rights in that country.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler told the group:
"We want our Colombian sisters and brothers to know that as we fight for basic trade union rights in this country, we are totally dedicated to their struggle to organize and collectively bargain in an atmosphere free of fear, terror and violence."

Shuler noted the AFL-CIO has recognized the courage, strength and valor of the Colombian union movement by presenting the 2008 George Meany-Lane Kirkland Human Rights Award to Colombian human rights activist Yessika Hoyos.

The Colombian workers participated in the Trade Union Strengthening program sponsored by the Solidarity Center, with funding and support from the U.S. Department of Labor. As part of the program, the Colombians joined union organizers on the ground for three weeks. They worked with organizers from AFSCME, TCU/IAM, North Shore (Mass.) Labor Council, Sacramento Central Labor Council and the Teamsters. TCU/IAM, the United Food and Commercial Workers and the Teamsters also provided training for the Colombians.

Colombia is the deadliest country in the world for trade unionists. At least 34 trade unionists have been killed this year in Colombia, with 10 deaths in the past eight weeks alone.

Jose Diogenes Orjuela Garcia, organizing director of the Colombian CUT union federation, said at the memorial service:
"We want to have a country where union rights and human rights are respected. If you add up all the acts of violence [against union members] there have been more than 10,000 in the past 20 years. "

Both Shuler and Garcia made it clear that the United States should not sign a free trade agreement with Colombia until the violence against union members ends. Says Shuler:
"The AFL-CIO stands with the…entire Colombian labor movement in their continued opposition to the Colombia-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. We cannot permit a permanent trade instrument that incorporates a labor market based on the literal assassination of workers and their unions.

For us, these struggles are one and the same. We are fighting for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act not only to help end the unchecked violations of organizing and collective bargaining rights by employers in this country, but to set a new standard for the United States and its corporations operating in Colombia and throughout the globe."

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