Mineworkers' Union At Cerrejon Mine, Colombia, MeetingPublished by MAC on 2006-11-29
Source: SINTRACARBON and NSCSC
SINTRACARBON (mineworkers' union at Cerrejon mine, Colombia) translated into English by Avi Chomsky of North Shore Colombia Solidarity Committee, Salem, Massachusetts, USA.
SINTRACARBON PRESS CONFERENCE AND
EXECUTIVE BOARD MEETING
29th November 2006
On Monday, November 27, Sintracarbón's executive board met in the Comfamiliar office in Riohacha. In the morning we held a press conference that was attended by representatives from the local, regional, and departmental media. The union was represented by six members of the negotiating team led by Jaime Delúquez Díaz. Our president gave a detailed explanation of the importance of our bargaining proposal, emphasizing its main points including: wages, health benefits, education, loans, transportation, contract workers, and communities. After his presentation there was a lively question and answer session. The union emphatically explained that it is hoping to carry out the negotiations with agreement and dialogue, but that it is also prepared to defend workers' interests and their rights to the full, if the company continues to assume its present arrogant and intransigent stance and ignore the needs of its workers.
It is worth emphasizing the importance and interest that the news media showed towards the union's political and social commitment to the communities and regarding the Cuestecitas-Riohacha road. We are grateful for the large attendance by the press at our conference.
After the press conference, the Negotiating Committee announced that the bargaining proposal was delivered to representatives of Cerrejón on Monday, November 20. The original plan was to deliver it at a meeting on November 17 at a meeting between Cerrejón president Leon Teicher and members of the Negotiating Committee, taking advantage of the presence in Colombia of Fred Higgs, Secretary General of the ICEM. Because of some logistical problems, the proposal could not be delivered at that meeting. This technical problem should not cause any controversy or fissures in the unity of the workers, those affiliated and those not affiliated with Sintracarbón--as we enter into our bargaining process.
Finally, the meeting discussed the union's plan of action in case of a labor conflict, considering the following hypothetical scenarios we should be prepared for:
1) That the negotiations only last for the first 20-day period (la etapa de arreglo directo, or period of direct resolution) and that agreement is not reached, nor is it agreed to continue into the second negotiating period. In this scenario, we would have to be prepared for a strike approximately 40 days from now. After the first 20-day negotiating period, the law allows us 10 days to consider a strike vote, and 10 further days to announce and begin the strike. (The strike cannot begin during the first two days nor on the last day of this 10-day period.)
2) That we negotiate through the two 20-day periods allowed, without arriving at an agreement. This would bring us to the point of beginning a strike around the end of January, 2007, allowing for the two periods explained earlier for voting and beginning a strike.
Given this situation we have contacted several organizations that are prepared to provide us economic support during our struggle. This would be supplemented by our union's own resources.
Taking these two possible scenarios into account, we have created a Central Strike Committee, made up of the following subcommittees:
*Finance Committee, Health Committee, Education Committee, Discipline Committee, and Recreation, Culture and Sports Committee
The local town committees should be made up of 5 members. We are therefore inviting delegates, activists, and supporters to join these committees in towns that do not have five union members.
The union calls upon the workers to build the unity that we will need to confront the conflict, and especially that we create the trust and support necessary for our Negotiating Committee. We must not be fooled by false rumors and offers of millions of pesos; we must focus on the real issues at stake. If the company does start to circulate this kind of rumor, it's a sign that they recognize our economic need and that they are using that to divide us, or even worse, to mock us.
Marta Harnecker stated that unity must be built from diversity. While we might have political, conceptual, and ideological differences, these differences can help us grow as an organization. Only through unity will we be able to achieve improvements in our contract, and confront the mine with the possibility of victory.
We call upon all of our members who do not currently have email accounts to set up accounts and send us your addresses, so that we can provide you with objective, true, and timely information as the negotiations progress.
UNITY - ORGANIZATION AND STRUGGLE!
LONG LIVE OUR JUST BARGAINING PROPOSAL!
LET US BUILD UNITY!
SINTRACARBON STANDS WITH THE STRUGGLE FOR THE RIGHTS OF WORKERS, CONTRACTED WORKERS, AND COMMUNITIES!
PRESS AND PUBLICITY DEPARMTENT