A U.S. congressional letter to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, initiated by Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-CA, urges President Colom to address worker rights violations and violence against trade unionists, issues that were raised in a CAFTA (Central America Free Trade Agreement) complaint filed last year by the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan unions. The letter, which closed with 40 members of the House was sent July 10 (to see list, follow link at the end of this article).
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) has joined a growing chorus of condemnation against the military coup in Honduras that took place on Sunday, June 28. U.S. NGOs and faith-based groups, including USLEAP, have also issued a statement opposing the coup, as has the AFL-CIO. Coup leaders are increasingly isolated by the international community.
Over 100 members of Congress have pledged support for a new approach to U.S. trade policy and new rules for the global economy. A growing list of cosponsors of the TRADE Act, introduced on June 24, 2009 by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep.
Three reports released in May and June document the rise of violence against trade unionists in Guatemala and the continuing wide-spread denial of worker rights since the passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Among other findings, Guatemala was the second most violent country in Latin America to be a trade unionist in 2008, trailing only Colombia.
According to an annual survey released on June 10 by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Colombia not only led the world in number of trade unionists murdered but accounted for nearly 65% of all assassinations of unionists worldwide in 2008. The Annual Survey of Violations of Trade Union Rights for 2008 reported that at least 76 union members were murdered worldwide last year, 49 in Colombia, a 25% increase from the 2007 level of 39.
With the Obama Administration’s
near-term trade agenda looking distressingly similar to that of the Bush
Administration’s, worker rights advocates are gearing up for a fight against
the Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that could be brought to a vote in
Congress this summer.
A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed against Dole Food
Co. on behalf of 73 people, victims of murdered trade unionists and farmers in
the banana-growing region of north Colombia, accusing the company of funding
paramilitaries to carry out assassinations and terror tactics in order to
protect its banana operations.
On the May 6th, 2009, workers from the newly formed union SINTRAFLORES, who are employed by two flower companies, Camino Real and Degaflores, went on strike because their employers had not paid their salaries or benefits.