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USW protest

Members of the USW and supporters protested the Mexican government’s repression of workers’ rights during a May 2010 visit to the nation’s capitol by Mexico’s president.

A legacy of political instability, armed conflicts and flagrant human rights violations has impoverished workers in many Latin American and Caribbean countries. In Colombia, where year after year, the murder rate of trade unionists is the worst in the world, workers literally risk their lives to seek workplace fairness through trade unions. Trade unionists also are under attack in Central America and Mexico.

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Respecting Labor Rights Must Be Part of Building a Lasting Peace in Colombia

Brian Finnegan
Respecting Labor Rights Must Be Part of Building a Lasting Peace in Colombia

With unions from the Americas and Europe, the AFL-CIO is participating in the 6th Congress of the Central Union of Workers (CUT) Colombia, the country’s largest labor federation, from Sept. 23–26. The congress takes place as Colombia moves forward with a negotiation and peace-building process to end a 50-year conflict that has killed more than 170,000 civilians. The armed conflict has been used by the government for decades to systematically deny basic labor and human rights. More than 3,000 trade unionists were murdered by paramilitary, government and armed guerilla forces for exercising fundamental labor rights since 1987. In spite of strong recent economic growth, Colombia continues to have the third highest social inequality in Latin America after the much poorer countries of Haiti and Honduras. Any sustainable solution to this long-term crisis must include respect for workers’ rights and shared prosperity. 

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