The Labor Action Plan agreed upon by Colombia and the U.S. to improve labor rights in Colombia and decrease impunity for perpetrators of crimes against unionists has “only led to cosmetic changes,” said think tank Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) Tuesday.
In the Washington-based organization’s podcast, WOLA Gimena Sanchez expressed to be positive that “the labor situation has gotten more attention … in the recent history of Colombia” and “the creation of the Labor Ministry” which has focused more on rights abuses in sectors wher workers have been most vulnerable.
“However, up until now, the Labor Action Plan has only led to cosmetic changes and not to major results,” said Sanchez, “The situation in Colombia needs requires many years for there to be the structural changes needed for that plan to be implemented”
“Sadly, since the plan was put in place in April 2011 we’ve seen that over 30 trade unionists have been killed and another 480 have received death threats,” the human rights advocate said.
Additionally, “since [United States President Barack] Obama was in [the Colombian city of] Cartagena in April announcing that the FTA was moving forward we’ve seen some big reprisals against the sectors in the Labor Action Plan.”
“For example, we have seen mass firings of workers in the port sector who were trying to organize and who basically put their belief in the Labor Action Plan as the way forward for them,” Sanchez said, stressing that a prominent union leader was among unionists killed and there had been a “crack down” against workers for oil company Pacific Rubiales who had demanded improved labor rights.