WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
30 Nov 2012 | Commentary | News

As Colombian Senate Holds Hearing, Labor Rights Situation Remains Dire

WOLA remains deeply concerned about the labor rights situation in Colombia. In 2012, at least 15 trade unionists have been murdered and over 300 new death threats have been received. Despite the fact that some limited progress has been made due to the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan, a large number of workers remain unable to fully exercise their collective bargaining rights and enjoy the labor protections guaranteed in Colombian law. In the port, oil, oil palm, mining, sugar, and other sectors, most contracting continues to take place through third parties. Workers attempting to change this reality are regularly dismissed and persecuted for their actions.

Death threats remain rampant. For example, just this month, members of SINALTRAINAL (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de Alimentos), Colombia’s food and beverage union, received death threats on November 4, 7, 13, and 20. Over the past 30 years, SINALTRAINAL has seen 24 of its members assassinated, two disappeared, 14 imprisoned, 49 displaced, and six exiled. Spurious legal charges also exist against several of its members, including William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis Galvis.

WOLA echoes the concerns expressed by Members of the U.S. Congress on November 30, and agrees that more work needs to be done by the United States and Colombia to effectively implement the U.S.-Colombia Labor Action Plan. We look forward to receiving the testimonies of the energy, agrofuel, and oil sector from today’s Colombian Senate hearing on labor rights in Villavicencio, Meta, Colombia organized by Senator Alexander Lopez Maya, and will continue to advocate for improvements in Colombia’s labor situation.