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Unions in Colombia march against violence

IndustriALL affiliates Sintracarbon, Sintraelecol and USO have been involved in various campaigns organized by Colombia’s central union of workers (CUT) to condemn the Duque government’s measures, which include a cut in the minimum wage for young people and an increase in the official retirement age.

The unions are also protesting against the fact that the government has not taken steps to arrest those responsible for the killing of hundreds of human rights campaigners and indigenous leaders.

On 25 November, an 18-year-old activist died after being injured by a teargas canister fired by anti-riot police. The young activist, Dylan Cruz, became a national symbol of the repression of protestors and the excessive force used by police against human rights campaigners.

The CUT called a general strike on 27 November, with the aim of achieving the same impact as on 21 November, which was the biggest day of protests in Colombia’s history.

Protestors once again called for the ESMAD anti-riot police force to be dismantled and for police corruption to be ended; they also condemned the tax reform and paid tribute to Dylan Cruz.  

On 25 November, the ITUC released a report on the on-going and increasing violence against union members and human rights activists.

Between 1 January 2016 (11 months before the Peace Agreement was signed) and 8 September 2019, a total of 777 union leaders and human rights campaigners were killed in Colombia.

The report states that the Duque government is facilitating the extermination of union leaders, human rights activists and former fighters by ensuring ongoing impunity.  It also says that the Colombian government has declared war on employment and union rights in order to bring in its labour and pension reforms, all of which goes against the country’s international committments.

IndustriALL’s regional secretary, Marino Vani, says:

“We support the national strike and the actions by our affiliates to combat violence and protest against the harmful measures announced by Iván Duque’s government.

“We call on the government to withdraw these measures and to take steps to guarantee union leaders and human rights activists’ right to peaceful protest.”

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