Colombia is the most dangerous country in the world for trade union workers, according to a report from the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
The document shows that in 2011 at least 76 union workers around the world were killed, with more than half the deaths occurring in Latin America, including 29 in Colombia and ten in Guatemala.
The General Secretary of the ITUC, Sharan Burrow, accused employers of “trying to sweep the worst abuses under the carpet”.
A recent study by the United Nations Development Programme warned that Colombia is one of the world’s countries with the worst rates concerning freedom of association and labor rights, with a record of more than 2,800 killings of trade unionists and members between 1984 and 2011, El Espectador reported
The National Union School (ENS), a labor rights NGO and think-tank, reported 480 acts of violence or intimidation against workers and unionists in 2011, including 29 homicides, and instances of torture, kidnapping, dissapearances and forced displacement.
The International Labor Organization (ILO), which produces a list each year of the countries whose governments systematically violate the rights of trade union workers, will not publish its annual list for the first time since 1926, reported Colombian newspaper El Heraldo Tuesday.
According to diplomatic sources, tensions between employers and unions stood in the way of an agreement for the development of the list produced by a committee of 17 independent lawyers and other experts, El Heraldo reported.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and U.S. leader Barack Obama signed an action plan on labor rights April 7 in hopes of tackling anti-union violence and providing increased security measures for union leaders. In spite of the agreement, critics in Colombia and the U.S. decried a free trade agreement between the two countries, which went into effect May 15, due to Colombia’s historically poor labor rights record.
The European Union (EU), which has its own free trade agreeement in the works with Colombia, also drew criticism from labor rights groups when parliament members endorsed the economic pact in March. The EU is expected to approve the agreement before the end of the year.