The Colombian government on Friday promised to improve relations with the country’s trade unions and strengthen efforts to fight impunity for killers of unionists and human rights activists.
Following a meeting between President Juan Manuel Santos, vice-President Angelino Garzon and representatives of Colombian labor unions, the vice-President announced regular round table talks between the government, unions and judicial authorities.
“We will strengthen the inter-institutional committee in charge of fighting impunity related to the defense of social activity, labor activity and the mechanisms that allow us to stop thise madness that still occurs in our country; the murder of unionists or human rights workers,” Garzon said.
The vice-President further said the government is studying a proposal by the unions to seek budget for regular meetings between unions, employers and government. “This is a budget item related to the promotion of dialogue, of consultation mechanisms and mechanisms to construct friendlier relations between employers, workers and the government,” Garzon said.
Colombia in 2009 had the highest number of internationally recognized murders on labor rights workers in the world. Of the 101 unionists murdered worldwide in 2009, 48 were committed in Colombia, says the International Trade Union Confederation. The situation of labor rights workers in Colombia was named one of the reasons for the Democratic majority in U.S. congress to not ratify a free trade agreement with the Andean nation.