Jorge Parra claimed to be on day 60 of his hunger strike protesting the mistreatment he and other former Colombian autoworkers allegedly received at the hands of General Motors.
With no sign of a response from the US automaker, the situation is looking grim for Parra. Jorge has vowed to continue his hunger strike until either General Motors (GM) shows a willingness to restart negotiations, or he dies.
“I am completely determined to die if it is necessary. It has been 60 days already and I will continue,” said Jorge.
A protest was held in Detroit on Monday where Jorge was joined by a host of supporters including human rights organizations, religious leaders and US autoworkers. There was even an appearance from US actor Danny Glover, who spoke in support of Jorge and his cause.
It is now five days after the protest, and GM still have not responded to Jorge’s overtures.
“They have not done anything…we have not received any help from General Motors,” he said.
This is not necessarily a surprise. GM has been very clear in their position. Company spokeswoman Katie McBride last week said that after Jorge refused their “generous” offer in the first round of negotiations, any further talks would be a pointless exercise.
“We don’t think it’s the best use of our time or theirs to go back to the [negotiating] table,” said McBride.
McBride also stated that Jorge and the group of former workers from his organization, ASOTRECOL, were offered hundreds of thousands of dollars in programs for themselves and their families, along with 15 months of healthcare and pension benefits, and two years of higher education. Jorge, however, refuted that such a “generous” offer was ever made.
“That is false. If that were true we would not be protesting. They want to appear to be generous, but the offer they made was very bad,” countered Jorge.
“They started with a proposal of $6,000 [for each of the 12 protestors] and the maximum [they offered] was $30,000 per person, but $30,000 does not cover the operation I need on my spinal chord…I cannot pay for a surgeon [with this amount]. We want a just solution, to be reintegrated into our jobs [with GM] again. That has been our only request,” said Parra.
Jorge and ASOTRECOL’s members allege that they were fired from GM’s Colombian subsidiary, Colmotores, after they sustained injuries such as herniated discs and tendonitis which prohibited them from working.
Whether GM relents from their position and re-enters into negotiations remains to be seen. But after 60 days without food, time for Jorge Parra is running out.