U.S. labor rights activists fasted Wednesday in support of Colombian former General Motors (GM) workers who have been on hunger strike for three weeks to demand compensation for labor-related diseases.
According to human rights NGO Witness for Peace, people in at least 20 states fasted to show their solidarity with the 13 Colombian men on hunger strike, seven of who additionally sew their mouth shut, while community and labor rights activists protested at the GM headquarters in Detroit, MI.
The Americans demand that GM interferes in the dispute between its Colombian branch and former workers who claim they have been laid off after falling ill due to labor-related causes.
“GM executives, dealers, customers, and neighbors need to understand that these workers gave their bodies and their health to construct vehicles for GM,” Jessica Hayssen, Field Director for the Minnesota AFL-CIO, was quoted as saying by the NGO.
“Just like all workers, they only ask for what they fairly deserve, but now GM has left them with no other choice but to go on hunger strike. They only want workers’ compensation, medical coverage, reintegration into the workforce, and compensation for lost wages after being wrongly terminated. GM cannot call itself a responsible corporate citizen while it treats its workers like this,” the labor rights activist added.
GM has so far rejected the strikers’ claims.
“GM Colmotores is respectful of the law and has never put the health or the well-being of its employees at risk,” the car maker emailed the Wall Street Journal last week. “Furthermore, the company would like to reassure and reaffirm that no employee has been discharged for health reasons.”