MAC: Mines and Communities

Colombia: Attack on Labour rights by contracting agency for El Cerrejon mine

Published by MAC on 2009-07-16
Source: Sintracarbon

The National Union of the Coal Industry, SINTRACARBON, brings to local, national and international attention the attack by the contracting firm, SOTRANS, on the labour rights of its workers, simply because they have had the audacity to unionize as a means of gaining certain fundamental rights enshrined in ILO strategic objectives. This includes the right of free association, freedom to unionize and the right to collective bargaining as outlined in ILO agreements 87 and 98, ratified by Colombia.

SINTRACARBON emphatically repudiates SOTRAN's disregard and violation of the right of association and freedom to unionize of outsourced workers and its attempt to eliminate the newly created organization SINTRANS through material suppression.

Basing its arguments on the fact that these workers are employed on fixed term, six-month contracts, the company cancelled the employment contracts of VICENTE POMARICO and JORGE DIAZ, ignoring their positions as founders and leaders.

Continuing the same strategy of persecution and harassment, the company has given notice of contract cancellations to thirty-three (33) union members, making evident its intention to disregard and violate the right of association. Complicit in these actions are the CERREJÓN company and the Ministry for Social Protection - which watch and do nothing: such is their response to the numerous petitions filed on Tuesday, July 7th of this year by SINTRANS on behalf of these workers.

SINTRACARBON condemns and repudiates the coercion, harassment and persecution to which these workers are subjected by SOTRANS, a blood sucking company that treats its workers like slaves, and which we declare to be an enemy of the working class.

Having been involved in the process of unionization of outsourced Cerrejón workers, we are not third parties nor outsiders, and SINTRACARBON, as an autonomous entity, reaffirms its historic responsibility, deep commitment and political will to uphold the fundamental rights of outsourced workers in Cerrejon. Here, before long, there should not be a single worker who does not benefit from the right of association and collective bargaining. This decision we will hold firm regardless of the consequences.

Finally, we condemn item number 4 of Circular No 009 of July 6, 2009 of the joint venture company, SOTRANS, for giving itself legal powers it does not possess. It is not companies that grant status or recognition to unions, nor is it the Ministry of Social Protection. We reprint the following to demonstrate how the company disregards and violates the right of free association.

"SOTRANS joint venture will use resources under the Act, to challenge the constitution and registration of the union, as it did not meet the requirements established in labour regulations."


[Thanks to Susan Murdock for translating this from the Spanish original on behalf of Mines and Communities .]



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