MAC: Mines and Communities

Urgent Action Concerning The Strike By Workers At Drummond Coal In Colombia

Published by MAC on 2006-03-15


Urgent Action concerning the strike by workers at Drummond Coal in Colombia

Aggression, attacks, divisions, death threats and assassination attempts against spokespeople and union negotiators from SINTRAMIENERGETICA are being used to sabotage the strike and impose miserable conditions on workers for the multinational company Drummond.

The undersigned union and human rights organisations denounce the assassination attempts against union leader Alvaro Mercado, spokesperson for the workers, and two other workers, and the continuous sabotage of the strike by Drummond officials.


1. It is public knowledge that since 27 March 2006, when workers began negotiating with multinational company Drummond, there have been many acts of aggression, assaults and death threats against union negotiators and leaders and company workers. The situation has worsened since the strike began on 22 May 2006, as demonstrated by the assassination attempt on Tuesday 13 June. Hired killers on motorbikes tried to assassinate our colleague Alvaro Mercado as he was entering his house in the Villa del Rosario neighbourhood of Valledupar, in the department of Cesar. He managed to save himself by taking refuge in his home and because police answered his call for help and managed to detain one of the hired killers who had been part of the group of attackers. A few hours after these events two more hired killers were captured and put at the disposal of the Attorney General’s office in the city of Valledupar.

The same day, 13 June 2006, various armed men in three vehicles, identified by the community as members of paramilitary groups operating in the area, were in the home of union leader Estivenson Avila, responsible for negotiating the workers’ demands. They asked for him and, on discovering that he was not in, waited for a while and then left. Days before, hired killers on motorbikes came looking for union leader Ruben Morron at his home in the city of Barranquilla. The union member had already received death threats.

2. Workers affiliated to SINTRAMIENERGETICA have denounced the fact that officials from the Drummond Company have been consistently pressuring them, phoning and offering them gifts if they will begin work again and withdraw authorisation from the negotiation team, aiming to break the strike. For the same reason, some people associated with the Drummond company called a meeting on Wednesday 14 June, but at that meeting union members unanimously rejected the approach of the strike-breakers whom the company had planted and firmly decided to continue the strike. In the last few days, the company has given its supervisors the task of finding workers to sign up to break the strike.

3. Drummond’s representatives suspended negotiations with the union and began a campaign to discredit the union organisation, which contributed to the creation of a climate in which attacks against union leaders could be justified, attacks like the one that occurred on Tuesday 13 June.
Although officials of the Ministry of Social protection have facilitated negotiations, they have not initiated – as they should if they are to fulfil their role – investigations of the Drummond representatives for their irregular activities during the strike. These have included delaying the start of the contingency plan, allowing the company to continue using mine facilities unlawfully, and acts of blackmail and intimidation against workers so that they would break the strike, in violation of trade union rights including the right to mobilise and to strike, rights recognised nationally and internationally. It is to be noted that Drummond has continued exporting coal which it buys from other companies, violating constitutional and legal precepts which protect the rights of Colombian workers.

4. The Drummond company asked President Alvaro Uribe Velez to constitute an Obligatory Arbitration Tribunal on the grounds that the strike would be affecting national economic interests, but his government cannot carry out this request because of a conflict of interest: Garry Drummond, owner of the company, Fabio Echeverri Correa, adviser to the President and representative of Drummond in Colombia, and President Alvaro Uribe Velez himself, have all been accused of corruption before a Florida State Court in the USA.

SINTRAMIENERGETICA-FUNTRAMIENERGETICA-CUT express our fear that assassinations, attempted assassinations and/or forced disappearances of Drummond workers affiliated to our organisations may occur, with the aim of generating panic and terror among the striking workers, breaking the strike and imposing conditions damaging to our affiliates. For this reason we URGENTLY make the following…


The Colombian State must adopt the measures necessary to guarantee the right to life, personal integrity, mobilisation, expression and strike action, of affiliates of SINTRAMIENERGETICA.

President Alvaro Uribe Velez must abstain from asking the Supreme Court of Justice to declare the establishment of an Obligatory Arbitration Tribunal, because his government has a conflict of interest, and such a decision would in effect be a derecognition of the labour rights of workers affiliated to SINTRAMIENERGETICA.

The multinational company Drummond must stop its illegal activity trying to divide the union, break the strike and discredit the union and its members and must abstain from making comments that put at risk the life or personal integrity of any worker affiliated to SINTRAMIENERGETICA-FUNTRAMIENERGETICA.

The US Embassy in Colombia must warn US multinationals operating in Colombia that they must respect the labour rights and human rights of workers and communities affected by natural resources exploration and exploitation. The US must immediately suspend the military aid directed to regions in which North American companies operate in a way which gravely violates the human rights of Colombian workers and communities.

Communities and unions in North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East which receive Colombian coal should stop unloading Drummond coal while the strike lasts, and make the purchase of Colombian coal conditional on respect for the labour rights and human rights of Colombians.

Unions and social and human rights organisations are requested to visit the places where Drummond workers are on strike, legally recognised and organised by SINTRAMIENERGETICA nationally, and bring economic and moral support by means of public declarations and communications. The places where the union members are concentrated are the mine at La Loma in Cesar department and Cienaga, the port, in Magdalena department.

Valledupar, Cesar, Colombia, 15 June 2006

Subscribing organisations:


Please write to the Colombian authorities, the company and the US Embassy, and send a copy of your letter to SINTRAMIENERGETICA and SINTRAMINERCOL.

Garry Drummond
CEO, Drummond co. Inc, P.O. Box 10246, Birmingham, Alabama 35202, USA

US Ambassador in Colombia
William B Wood

President of the Republic
Dr Álvaro Uribe Vélez, Cra. 8 No..7-26, Palacio de Nariño, Santa fe de Bogotá.
Fax: (+57 1) 566.20.71 e-mail:

Vice-President of the Republic
Dr Francisco Santos e-mail:

Ministry of Mines and Energy
Dr Luis Ernesto Mejia Castro, Transversal 45 No. 26-86 Bogotá. Tel (57-1) 324 5262 email:

Ministry of Social Protection
Dr Diego Palacio Betancourt
Carrera 13 No. 32-76 Piso 22 Bogotá D.C. Tel 57-1-3365066 Fax 57-1-3360182

National Procurator General
Dr Edgardo José Maya Villazón. Carrera 5 No. 15-80 Bogotá. Fax: (+ 57-1) 342-97-23

Human Rights Ombudsman
Dr Volmar Antonio Pérez Ortiz. Calle 55 No. 10-32 Bogotá. Fax: (+ 57-1) 640- 04 91

UN Permananent Mission to Colombia in Geneva
Chemin du Champ d'Anier 17-19, 1209 Geneva.
Fax: (+4122) 791-07-87; (+4122) 798-45-55

SINTRAMINERCOL: Calle 32# 13-07 Bogotá.
Tel: 57-1-2456581 Fax 57-1-5612829. Email:

SINTRAMIENERGETICA: Calle 34 No. 44-63, Oficina 9ª Barranquilla.
Tel (57-5) 3792945, Fax (57-1) 3406777 email:

Home | About Us | Companies | Countries | Minerals | Contact Us
© Mines and Communities 2013. Web site by Zippy Info