Service Employees International Union expresses solidarity with the National Strike in Colombia

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: SEIU President Mary Kay Henry.

The American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have sent a joint letter to the Biden Administration on the situation in Colombia.

SEIU Healthcare is a healthcare union in Canada with more than 60,000 frontline workers.

Excerpts from the AFL-CIO, IBT and SEIU letter include:

For decades, the Colombian labor movement and many democracy and human rights defenders have suffered threats and violence for exercising their fundamental rights of freedom of expression and association. Unfortunately, the Colombian government, especially the Mobile Anti-Disturbances Squadron (ESMAD), have consistently been a major actor in perpetrating this violence.

Since the current protests began, reports from trade unions and civil society organizations in Colombia indicate a militarization of the country through the repressive crackdown on protests by the ESMAD.

The Administration should immediately suspend all forms of security assistance not related to human rights training to the national police and set clear time-bound benchmarks for improvements before assistance can resume.

As close allies of the Colombian labor movement, we note that ESMAD has a long history of being deployed by the government to undermine worker rights mobilizations, as documented in the 2016 petition filed by Colombian unions and the AFL-CIO regarding Colombia’s failure to comply with the labor standards in the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.

Recent measures adopted by the Duque Government, including its 2020 Development Plan, Decree 770 and Decree 1174, have weakened labor rights and undermined the Labor Ministry’s ability to enforce labor law across the country.

The U.S. labor movement stands in solidarity with the National Strike Committee (Comité Nacional del Paro) and the Colombian people as they continue to mobilize and protest in support of their full demands, including negotiating an agreement with the Colombian social movements on tax reform that motivated the recent protests, and negotiations over the Unified Emergency Proposal of the National Strike Committee.

Their full letter can be read here.

For additional statements from the labour movement in Canada in solidarity with the national strike in Colombia, please click on these links: Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), United Steelworkers (USW), Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC),  National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE),  Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW), Union of Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), and British Colombia General Employees Union (BCGEU).

Webinar on June 3

To hear more about the current situation with the national strike in Colombia, please join us on Thursday June 3 for a webinar with Berenice Celeita (Association of Research and Social Action/Nomadesc), Oscar Ramirez (Committee in Solidarity with Political Prisoners) and Danilo Rueda (Justice and Peace Commission).

You can join this bilingual (English/Spanish) webinar by registering here.


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