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AFL-CIO report exposes persistent violence against Colombian trade unionists
(Washington, DC, Monday, April 7, 2014) - To mark the three year anniversary of Colombia’s Labor Action Plan (LAP), the AFL-CIO together with the most important labor federations in Colombia, and the largest labor federations in the Americas, issued today a declaration criticizing this agreement and the Colombian government for its failure to protect workers’ rights and their safety. The declaration also asks both governments to make commitments to guarantee that labor rights in Colombia are respected.
The declaration titled “Three Years of Non-Compliance with the Obama-Santos Labor Action Plan” describes the failures of the current U.S. approach, and issues recommendations on what can be done to ensure workers can safely and freely exercise their fundamental rights.
In addition to the joint declaration, the AFL-CIO released the report titled “Making the Colombia Labor Action Plan Work for Workers,” which documents the ongoing violence in Colombia against trade unionists. This report uses information from the Colombia’s National Union School among other well-documented research, to detail how the Labor Action Plan has been flawed from the beginning, and as a result, has failed to protect even the most basic labor rights in Colombia. The report confirms that the deadly violence in Colombia against trade unionists continues: in the three years since the Labor Action Plan was signed, 73 trade unionist have been murdered.
“The Plan made big promises but delivered few changes to improving worker rights and working conditions. Nowhere should a worker live in danger, or live in fear for his or her family for organizing a union at the workplace,” said Cathy Feingold, AFL-CIO’s International Department director. “Today, three years later, the AFL-CIO joins Colombian workers in saying: make the labor action plan work for workers. We will continue to work until both governments can guarantee that labor rights are respected and there are no more trade unionists murdered in Colombia.”
On April 7, 2011 the governments of the United States and Colombia launched the Labor Action Plan. As a condition to passing the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, the two countries agreed to a series of reforms intended to address decades of systematic violence against union activists and persistent abusive practices by employers. However, the trade agreement was ratified without meeting those commitments.
Contact: Gonzalo Salvador (202) 637-5018