Peace Brigades International in solidarity with the labour movement and the struggle for workers rights and social justice

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PBI-Honduras accompanying Franklin Almendares, the General Secretary of the National Union of Rural Workers (CNTC).

Peace Brigades International physically accompanies human rights struggles in Honduras, Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico.

These countries have been dangerous for trade union activists.

The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has documented that at least 13 trade unionists were murdered in Colombia between April 2021 and March 2022. There were also 6 attempted murders, 99 death threats and 8 arbitrary arrests in the country.

This has been a longstanding problem.

ITUC has also documented that of the 101 trade unionists murdered in 2009, 48 were killed in Colombia, 16 in Guatemala, 12 in Honduras and 6 in Mexico.

Now, PBI-Guatemala is accompanying the ongoing Military Diary Case court hearings in which several military and police officers are on trial for the disappearance, torture and murder of 183 people, including trade union activists, from 1983 to 1985.

PBI-Guatemala accompanies a Caso Militar Diario hearing, July 2021.

PBI-Honduras also accompanies the National Union of Rural Workers (CNTC). The CNTC is affiliated with the Unified Confederation of Honduran Workers (CUTH) which in turn is affiliated with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

PBI-Colombia accompanies the José Alvear Restrepo Lawyers Collective Corporation (CCAJAR), notably lawyer Yessika Hoyos. Her father Jorge Darío Hoyos Franco was assassinated for his union activism on March 3, 2001 (when Yessika was 17 years old). Yessika now leads CCAJAR’s trade union work seeking accountability and reparations for crimes committed against the trade union movement.

PBI-Colombia also accompanies the Association for Research and Social Action (NOMADESC), a Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) partner. NOMADESC president Berenice Celeita was targeted in an assassination plot in 2004 for her work with the SintraEmcali union and their opposition to the privatization of Emcali, a state-owned company providing water, telecommunications, and electricity services in the city of Cali.

PBI-Colombia with Berenice Celeita during the national strike, 2021.

And notably, PBI-Colombia accompanied social movements almost on a daily basis during the historic National Strike that took place between April 28 and June 30, 2021. Indepaz has documented that 44 people were killed by security forces during this time for protesting the national government’s austerity policies. This police violence was condemned by many unions, including IndustriALL.

And PBI-Mexico accompanies the Cerezo Committee that works with the Popular Union of Street Vendors (UPVA) “28 de octubre” in Mercado de Hidalgo. The Cerezo Committee has also supported the Committee of Human Rights of the Tehuacan Valley that promotes labour rights in the make-up shops in Tehuacan.

PBI-Mexico has also accompanied the Focal Group on Business and Human Rights since 2015. The Focal Group works to ensure the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are respected, including the “fundamental rights set out in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

PBI-Mexico accompanying the Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights Project (ProDESC), a member of the Focal Group, February 2020.

PBI has supported multiple other initiatives, meetings and processes related to the advancement of labour rights and social justice. For example, PBI-Honduras attended the forum focused on the Impact of the Coup D’état on Human Rights, with an emphasis on the violation of labour rights and the LGTBI community.

PBI-Canada also spent two days this past summer with a Canadian labour movement delegation in Colombia that included representatives from the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW) and the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC).

With the Canadian labour movement delegation meeting with the Black Communities Process (PCN) in Buenaventura, where a 22-day civic strike took place in May 2017.

PBI-Canada also observed two CUPE picket lines in Ottawa on November 4 when 55,000 unionized Ontario school support workers went on strike after the provincial government imposed a contract on them and overrode the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, notably the right to collective bargaining.

Peace Brigades International recognizes that the struggle for human rights is indivisible from the struggle for the rights of workers.

Unifor visits with PBI-Colombia in Bogota.

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