International labor unions on Thursday dismissed a recent statement by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) saying Colombia’s labor rights situation has improved “significantly.”
According to the unions, “this assessment illustrates an apparent lack of understanding for the reality on the ground.”
Workers Uniting, an organization comprised of labor unions from the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland, said in an open letter that it welcomed a pact signed by Colombia, the U.S. Labor Department and the ILO to “ratify” joint efforts to minimize and prosecute crimes committed against labor unions.
“The self-congratulations of these signatories comes just as Colombia was again declared the most dangerous country in the world to be a trade unionist by the International Trade Union Confederation, which reported 29 Colombian unionists killed in 2011, ” said USW International President Leo W. Gerard in the letter.
According to the unions, 16 labor rights workers have been killed in Colombia so far this year and, instead of offering protection, “the Colombian government cut funding for labor and human rights activists under government protection.”
“This cut compromises the ability of labor and human rights leaders under threat to safely travel throughout Colombia. If the Colombian and U.S. governments are truly committed to labor and human rights, they will provide the necessary funding to return this support in full to those under protection,” said the letter.
Colombia has long been the world’s most dangerous country for labor activists. Colombia committed to improving labor rights situations and combat impunity in crimes against unionists in a Labor Action Plan signed in advance of a free trade agreement with the U.S.
However, according to NGO’s, Colombia has failed to meet the goals set in the labor plan.