Colombia’s three main labor unions criticized U.S. Ambassador William Brownfield for saying the situation for unions nowadays is much better than ten to 15 years ago.
The unions do not deny there has been a decline in deaths since the beginning of the decade, but accuse the ambassador of conveniently forgetting other labor issues.
President of the General Labor Confederation (CGT), Roberto Gomez Esguerra, says many labor unions have seized to exist, leaving many workers undefended.
Fabio Arias, vice-President of Colombia’s largest union the United Workers Center (CUT), says the remarks of the ambassador confirms his wishful thinking and the need for the US to get the free trade agreement with Colombia signed.
The situation in Colombia is still extremely delicate, he added, because workers in the public sector keep being fired and are denied the right to form an association to defend their rights.
Arias says that over the past twenty years the labor union movement has been the victim of violent persecution. According to the vice-President, statistics support that there’s been a process of annihilating unions. Twenty years ago 15 percent of the working population was part of a union. Now that’s only 4.5 percent, he says.
Director of the Confederation of Colombian Workers (CTC) Apecides Alvís, added that making a simple comparison in numbers of union leaders killed is completely ignoring the historical process, not only of that of Colombian workers, but also the continuous impunity.