Colombian General Motors (GM) worker Jorge Parra is on hunger-strike again, and this time he is in Washington D.C.
Parra has been protesting what he says was his unfair dismissal from GM for 407 days as of Tuesday, when he spoke to Colombia reports from the U.S.
In August Parra and other former GM workers who claimed they had been unfairly dismissed by GM, sewed their mouths shut in hunger-strike outside the U.S. embassy in Colombia’s capital Bogota where they had already been camping in protest for a year.
The protestors starved for 22 days until, under increasing pressure from public figures in the U.S., negotiations were called again on August 23rd. After a mere three-and-a-half days the talks were broken off when GM refused to meet the protestors demands to be rehabilitated and retrained so they could resume working in the company.
According to the International Business Times however, GM said that the workers “walked out” of the meetings, a statement strongly refuted by Jorge Parra.
“It is completely false that we walked away, the only thing GM offered was $6,000 to share between the 12 workers, that is not even enough to buy a hot-dog stand,” said Parra.
The protest has been brought to the U.S. because according to Parra, who walks with a cane and suffers from severe carpal tunnel syndrome, GM only offered to put the meager compensation fund into a foundation, thus washing their hands of any responsibility for the workers’ damaged health.
According to GM however the offers to the workers were “very generous” and “on par with similar offers we have made in the U.S.” reported the International Business Times.
Jorge Parra has slammed GM’s “generosity” calling it “basically a joke” and asserting that the paltry economic compensation along with the company’s refusal to accept any responsibility for the workers’ condition was unacceptable.
“They basically called us personas-non-gratas and said we were dangerous to the workplace,” said Parra who has been on hunger strike for eight days now.
Parra is confident that the resumption of his hunger strike in Washington will draw the desired attention to the struggle of the workers in Colombia, nine of whom have re-sewn their mouths shut outside the Bogota embassy, and put pressure on GM to come to a resolution.
“The reaction of GM would undoubtedly have been better if this had happened in the U.S.” said Gimena Sanchez who is championing the Colombian workers’ rights in Washington and hosting Parra during his time there. “This is about a U.S. company having an economic advantage in another country.”
As for Parra, the “Traveling Hunger-Striker,” he says he is maintaining “good spirits and I’m hopeful, while thinking of my family and the workers camped outside the U.S. embassy in Bogota.”