Guatemala CAFTA Labor Complaint Celebrates 4th Birthday; Unions Don’t

Guatemalan unions yestrday used the occasion of the four year anniversary of the filing of the first labor complaint under CAFTA to call on the U.S. government to impose sanctions on their own government after years of its failure to act.  

In a press conference held on April 23, four years to the day since six Guatemalan trade unions and the AFL-CIO filed in 2008 the first labor complaint under CAFTA, a broad spectrum of the Guatemalan trade union movement denounced the absence of any meaningful progress in addressing worker rights violations that range from workers fired for organizing to unpaid wages and murder.  One young woman stood before the audience with a baby in arms saying she and 20 other women were still waiting to be paid wages owed after her maquila factory closed three years ago but that they refused to give up their struggle for justice.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka joined in supporting the Guatemalan unions, issuing a press statement that marked the anniversary, stating, “This day marks a tragic anniversary—four years since the AFL-CIO and six Guatemalan unions filed a complaint under DR-CAFTA (the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement)—and still no justice for Guatemalan workers.”  

Participating in the event was SITRABI, one of the Guatemalan union who filed the complaint who case focused on the murder of a union executive committee member, Marco Tulio Ramirez.  Not only has his murder not been investigated or prosecuted, seven other members of the union have been murdered in the last 12 months.  SITRABI is the largest and strongest private sector union in Guatemala, representing Del Monte banana workers.