#TUC2019: CSP calls for action over rising attacks on trade unionists in Colombia

The CSP has called for action over a surge in attacks against trade unionists in Colombia.

James Allen with Diogenes Orjuela, President of CUT (Columbia’s largest trade union confederation), who was visiting TUC Congress

In a passionate speech, the CSP’s James Allen asked the hundreds of union reps gathered at TUC Congress to imagine what it would be like to support members in a country where lack of safety was a daily fact of life for trade unionists, 'hundreds of activists and humans rights organisers have been murdered' and many more threatened and beaten.

Prior to speaking, Mr Allen had spoken at a fringe meeting to Diogenes Orjuela, president of Central Union of Workers (CUT), Colombia’s largest trade union confederation, and he reflected back to delegates: 'I wondered how he does it, continuing on with the role despite these risks?'

Mr Allen argued forcefully that British trade unionists should 'show solidarity' with colleagues in Colombia and 'raise the profile' of the Justice for Colombia campaigning to 'stop this violence and the threats of violence.'

Justice for Colombia

The CSP, which is affiliated to Justice for Colombia, was speaking in support of a motion brought by the Prison Officers Association. This challenged the decision to invite Colombia to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and demanded that the South American country be excluded from this body of the world’s rich countries ‘until it drastically cuts violence against trade unionists and social activists.’

The motion calls on the TUC and affiliates to lobby the British government, a member of the OECD, to pressure the Colombian government for full implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2016 and to support the work of Justice for Colombia.

The peace agreement was 'critical to tackling violence in Colombia yet more than 700 social activists, trade unionists and FARC former guerrillas have been murdered since the agreement was signed,' the motion stated.

Ending violence and improving conditions

More than 3,000 trade unionists have been killed in Colombia in the last 30 years and Colombia is among the worst countries for general labour conditions and this was 'directly connected to violence against labour organising'.

The motion further stated: 'Ending this violence will not only save lives but improve conditions for millions of working people.'

TUC Congress is the annual policy-making conference of the British trade union movement; it started Sunday and ended today.

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