“Colombia and the law of the ILO”

COLOMBIA: A LONG HISTORY OF VIOLATIONS OF ILO´S LAWS “The war against want requires to be carried on with unrelenting vigour within each nation, and by continuous and concerted international effort in which the representatives of workers and employers, enjoying equal status with those of governments, join with them in free discussion and democratic decision with a view to the promotion of the common welfare” Declaration of Philadelphia Colombia in the history of ILO and presence the ILO in Colombia

Colombia is state founder of the League of Nations and ILO to which it belongs since 1919. Along with other seventeen countries of Americas, is part of the forty-five states agreed to launch the ILO, and they shared the fundamental principle established in the Constitution of the new organization: universal and lasting peace can only be achieved when it is based on the decent treatment of workers. Despite continuous warning by to the nonfulfilment of the Conventions relating to protection of workers rights and particularly freedom of association, Colombia has never been withdrawn from the organization and has ratified sixty of most relevant conventions. Colombia has participated in the Conferences of the Americas Region, from the first held in 1935 in Santiago de Chile. The Conference adopted resolutions on social security principles and problems of employment and unemployment, and requested that the Bureau will undertake research on immigration and the problems of Native Americans. The regional Conferences of the countries American members of the ILO, have contributed to the defense and protection of human rights and particularly to freedom of association. The Third Conference of American States, meeting in Mexico City in 1946, adopted three resolutions relating to freedom of association, which, in Hector Gros opinion, gave rise to Conventions 87 of 1948 and 98 of 1949 about right to organize and Collective Bargaining. According to the author at Fourth Regional Conference in Montevideo in 1949, adopted resolution VIII, which was included in the process that ultimately gave rise to the Committee on Freedom of Association (GROS, 1986: 73).


Currently of the 182 member states, 34 belong to America. For the first time in its history, since 1999 a representative of developing countries, the Chilean Juan Somavia, occupies the job as Director General of the ILO. Along the Second World War and subsequent years, was strengthened the links between American states and the ILO. As result, was established in 1953 in Lima, Peru, one of the ILO Centers in the region. Since 1968, Lima became the seat of the ILO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. The ILO now also has Sub regional Offices or national offices in San Jose - Costa Rica, Santiago - Chile, Buenos Aires - Argentina, Brasilia - Brazil, Port of Spain - Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico City - Mexico. Together with Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, Colombia is part of the Sub regional Office for the Andean Countries (ORS), headquartered in Lima, Peru. Through SRO, Colombia has access to technical assistance team of specialists, is linked to the ILO headquarters in Geneva and to the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (RO), which also has seat in Lima. As a result of "The Tripartite Agreement on Freedom of Association and Democracy" signed during the 95th session of the International Labor Conference (See page. 7), the ILO established a permanent representation in Colombia, to work hand in hand with Sub regional Office for the Andean Countries and the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (Report of the Director General, Governing Body, 2007) What Conventions has ratified Colombia? Colombia has ratified sixty ILO Conventions, among which are the eight ILO’s Fundamental Conventions: Freedom of association, collective bargaining, and industrial relations (C-87, C-98); Forced labour (C-29, C-105); Elimination of child labour and protection of children and young persons (C-138, C-182); Equality of opportunity and treatment (C-100, C-111). Also Colombia has ratified three of the four priority Conventions of ILO: C-81 Labour Inspection Convention, C-129 Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention and C-144 Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention. Of this group, Colombia has not ratified the Convention 122 (Employment Policy Convention).


Before making a boring and endless list, I preferred to build a table with -what I consider- the most relevant information about the Conventions. The Table 1 shows which Conventions Colombia has ratified, with the follows items: number of Convention, year of adoption in ILO, name of Convention, year of ratification by the State of Colombia, if has been denounced and why. In the Subject column, there is the ILO general classification for the Conventions, and the last column shows which Conventions can be ratified by Colombia. Table 2 shows the subjects in which Colombia has not ratified any convention and where there are possibilities for ratification. Although Colombia has ratified important ILO Conventions, still lack ratify some also very important, especially in the follows subjects: Occupational safety and health; Elimination of child labour and protection of children and young persons, Maternity protection (C-183, 2000). How are incorporated ILO Conventions in Colombian legal system? First of all I would like to explain what is the legal process to sign an international convention, and how is it inclusion in the Colombian legal system. After, I will talk about the special mechanisms for the incorporation of ILO Conventions to Colombian law using the most relevant jurisprudence. The process to be followed by an international convention is: 1. Signing by the President. Legal basis: Article 189, paragraph 2, Colombia Political Constitution, about the powers of the President of the Republic1. 2. The International Convention is submitted to Congress through a bill to sanction or approve, through an Act of the Republic. Legal basis: Article 150, paragraph 16 Colombia Political Constitution2. 3. International treaties must go through the Constitutional Court, who ensures that the agreement is within the framework of the Constitution and to observe the “Constitutional Bloc”. Legal basis: Article 241, paragraph 10 Colombia Political Constitution3.


ARTICLE 189. Number 2. To lead international relations. To appoint the diplomatic and consular agents, receiving the respective agents and celebrate with other States and entities of international law, treaties or agreements that shall be subject to congress approval. 2 ARTICLE 150. Number 16. Approve or reject treaties signed by the Government with other States or international law bodies. Through these treaties -and based on equity, reciprocity and national convenience-, the state will may transfer partially certain powers to international bodies, which seek to promote and consolidate economic integration with other states. 3

The Constitution gives relevance to the international conventions related to human rights, through Article 93: “The treaties and conventions ratified by the Congress that recognize human rights and prohibit their limitation in states of emergency prevailing in the internal order. The rights and duties including in this Constitution shall be construed in accordance with international human rights treaties ratified by Colombia”4 The “constitutional block” is refers to those rules and principles that without appear formally in the constitution, are used as control parameters constitutionality of laws, because they has been normatively integrated into the Constitution in various ways and by order of the Constitution itself (MARANGO, 2004: 79).

Let us see how some conventions are linked to Constitution and must prevail over any internal rules. The ILO Convention 3 “Maternity Protection Convention”, is in harmony with the “special protection to women and maternity” referred to in Articles 43 and 53 of the Constitution, and is included in the constitutional bloc through Article 93. (MARANGO, 2004: 87)

The Decision T-662-97, by Judge Alejandro Martínez Caballero, included in block of constitutionality, the Convention about the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (MARANGO, 2004: 88).

The decision T-568-99 of the Magistrate Carlos Gaviria Diaz, added ILO Conventions 87 and 98 about Freedom of Association, to the constitutional bloc, ensuring that even in states of exception (state of internal disturbance) can not limit this right. The ruling made clear that the constitutional bloc is made by the Preamble to the Colombian Constitution; the Articles 1, 5, 39, 53, 56 and 93; the ILO Constitution; the Conventions 87 and 98 on Freedom of Association; the Articles Relevant Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and the American Convention on Human Rights (MARANGO, 2004: 89).


ARTICLE 241. Numeral 10. Decide finally about the enforceability of international treaties and laws that approve them. To this end, the government will send them, to the Court within six days after the enactment of the law. 4 Colombia Political Constitution. Chapter IV, about protection and application of rights. 4

In decision T-606-01, Judge Marco Gerardo Monroy Cabra, said that under the ILO Convention 169 special jurisdiction for the Indians is a right not subject to limitation in states of emergency and is part of the block of constitutionality. Similarly in decision T-955 2003, Judge Alvaro Tafur Galvis, included Convention 169 on the block of constitutionality and enforceability of prior consultation of this Convention in decisions on matters that may affect people Indigenous and Tribal (MARANGO, 2004: 90).

The International Labor Standards that shape the block of constitutionality (Includes ILO Conventions 100, 105, 111, 138 and 182) will be dominant against the rules that are contrary; are parameters for the control of constitutionality that will make Constitutional Court and may be protected by tutela, because are fundamental rights (PUYO, 2004: 2). Is clear that in Colombia there are sufficient legal mechanisms, both to incorporate the ILO Conventions on the legal system, and to give them relevant in the domestic order. Despite this, there is a low level of Conventions compliance and the exercise of trade union freedoms is limited by laws. Is the case of Law 1210 of 2008, with which the Government gave to the ordinary courts, the power to declare the illegality of the strikes, which means an arbitrary interference in the right to strike. This is contrary to ILO conventions and ignores the recommendations that in this regard have been doing the CFA. With the powers that this law gives, the Supreme Court declared illegal the strike of more than 40 days promoted by Asonal Judicial that ended in October 2008. Also noting that officials Judiciary can’t go on strike or collective bargaining. This ruling ignores the conventions 87, 98, 151 and 154 of the ILO.

Another example of noncompliance of the Labor Standards, is Decree 535 of February 24, 2009 that restricts the right to collective bargaining for public sector employees, to certain specific subjects contained in the Decree itself. They are also contrary to the Conventions signed, the increase in the number of so-called Associated Labor Cooperatives, which limit the right of association; the acceptance by the Government of new types of contracts that leave workers out of any benefit law; the law decrees that wipe out the historic achievements of the working class, and of course the murder of trade unionists. These issues will be discussed in the next section.


Colombia: A long history of violations of ILO´s laws Is very famous the passage of One Hundred Years of Solitude in which our Nobel Prize in Literature, Gabriel García Márquez, narrates the events of 6 December 1928 in Ciénaga - Magdalena Municipality in the North of Country5. Workers from United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands), demanded decent working conditions in the banana zone, and after years of unsuccessfully trying to negotiate a Collective bargaining, they went on strike. The Government gave its support to the company and in an attempt to dissolve the protest, the army fired into a crowd of demonstrators in the square in Ciénaga, where workers were with their wives and children. Even today nobody knows the number of victims of this massacre. Considering that strikers were criminals, communists and anarchists, the army detained and tried in court-martial to the organizers of the strike that had survived the massacre (HERNÁNDEZ, 2004). This fact that is known in the history of Colombia as "the banana massacre¨, was the start the long list of murders of trade unionists, which continues today (more than eighty years later). I´d like refer to the report presented in November 2009 by the National Union School. Colombian NGO working since 1982 to study and research of issues related to trade union activity and the world of work. The School has been making a judicious monitoring about violations to life right, freedom and integrity against trade unionists in Colombia. The report titled: ¨Death Is not Mute¨, not merely show the numbers, but allows us to see the theme of personal tragedy behind each number. Unfortunately space does not permit me to explore in depth the document, so I only will integrate historical data that show how far from diminishing, the violation of union rights and freedoms has increased during the administration of President Alvaro Uribe.

The violence against trade unionists in Colombia is a historical fact, as shown in Table 3. Among the first of January 1986 and 7 August 2009, have been killed in Colombia two thousand seven hundred and four trade unionists and has committed a total of 10,364
“Ladies and gentlemen,” the captain said in a low voice that was slow and a little tired. “You have five minutes to withdraw”. The redoubled hooting and shouting drowned out the bugle call that announced the start of the count. No one moved. - “Five minutes have passed”-, the captain said in the same tone. “One more minute and we’ll open fire” … José Arcadio Segundo raised himself up over the heads in front of him and for the first time in his life he raised his voice. “You bastards!” he shouted. “We give you the extra minute”. After his shout something happened that did not bring on fright but a kind of hallucination. The captain gave the order to fire and fourteen machine guns answered at once (GARCIA, 2004)


human rights violations, including threats, homicides, forced displacement, arbitrary detention , harassment, attack with or without injuries, disappearance, kidnapping, torture, illegal search, homicide of relatives (See Table 4). These same indicators are shown in Table 5, to two terms of office of Alvaro Uribe Velez (from 7 August 2002 and August 7, 2009).

The systematic persecution and murder of trade unionists, the failure in the Labor Standards signed by the National Government and the observations of the ILO, have led to Colombia during the last twenty years to appear before the Standards Implementation Committee of the Conference International Labor. Because of this ongoing review and to the pressure the trade unions, during the 95th session of the International Labor Conference (June 2006), was signed “The Tripartite Agreement on Freedom of Association and Democracy”. In the Governing Body 297th session (November 2006), government representatives and organizations of employers and workers undertook among other to promote decent work, strengthen the defense of the fundamental rights of workers, specially as regards respect for human life, freedom of association and of speech, collective bargaining, and free enterprise for employers. To facilitate the implementation of the Convention, the ILO established a permanent representation in Colombia (Report of the Director General, Governing Body, 2007).

One objective of this agreement is the strengthening of social dialogue through the structures that make it possible. I´d like speak of two of these structures:National Commission on Wage and Labour Policies and the Special Committee for the Handling of Conflicts referred to the ILO (CETCOIT).

Article 56 of the Constitution created the National Commission on Wage and Labour Policies6. The law 278 of 1996 regulates this Tripartite Commission, establishing his headquarters in the capital of the Republic as well as the installation of departmental subcommittees, which will contribute to the national debate.


Article 56. A permanent commission composed by Government, representatives of employers and workers, will promote good laboral relations, will contribute to the resolution of collective labor disputes, and will agree on Wage and Labour Policies. The law shall regulate its composition and operation.

Overall, the functions of the Commission are: to promote good labor relations; contributing to the resolution of collective conflicts; determine in concert the general minimum wage, taking into account that it should ensure decent quality of life for the worker and his family; determine in concert the labour policy, taking into account the welfare of workers, job training, job creation, improving production and productivity, equitable income redistribution; seek the participation of workers in the management of companies; universalization of social security; guaranteeing the rights of women of child workers and other vulnerable workers and guarantee trade union rights.

Undoubtedly, this is a progressive vision of social dialogue in line with the approach of the ILO Decent Work Agenda. Unfortunately the reality is far away. Year after year the constituents to meet but do not reach any agreement. In the last years the Government has set a minimum wage increase by decree. The trade unions insist that the minimum wage is half of the income that a family needs to survive and that proof is the increase in the numbers of poverty and misery of the country.

Trade Unions complain that the government refuses to discuss the other issues that is within the competence the Commission as employment policies, the status of medium and small farmers, policies that affect microentrepreneurs, worker cooperatives , contracts for services, the situation of pensioners, social security and others that deal with labor policies.

The second structure is CETCOIT. Because of the volume of complaints from Colombia to the Committee on Freedom of Association in order to participate in the speedy resolution of conflicts that have to do with ILO conventions ratified by Colombia, and especially in relation to issues of freedom association, was established the Special Committee for the Handling of Conflicts referred to the ILO (CETCOIT).

This committee, which also is tripartite and consists of three representatives from each sector, was born in 2000 in the National Commission on Wage and Labor Policies. CETCOIT hears cases already filed with the ILO in Geneva and the new conflicts that may come to that instance. Treatment of a conflict in the CETCOIT not prevent the parties go to the relevant legal bodies or the ILO when they deem appropriate.


Despite “The Tripartite Agreement on Freedom of Association and Democracy” Colombia continues presenting complaints to the Committee on Freedom of Association. There are 114 cases in the Committee, which have been closed; 13 are on follow and 14 remain active (see Table 6).

In mid 2009 the ILO withdrew its permanent representative in Colombia, Mr. Marcelo Fox. Currently nobody has taken the specific functions that the Agreement gives this representative. There is a climate of distrust between unions and the government, due the increased the minimum wage for 2010 in just 3.64%, and by the new health system reform. These laws increase the poverty and weaken the social protection of most Colombians.


Table 1. Overview Conventions ratified by Colombia Self construction, based data from ILO and National Government of Colombia
CONV 11 87 98 151 154 29 105 5 6 10 15 138 182 100 111 144 81 129 160 2 88 159 26 95 99 1 4 14 20 30 52 101 104 106 YEAR ABOUT 1921 Right of Association (Agriculture) Convention Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to 1948 Organise Convention 1949 Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention 1978 1981 1930 1957 Labour Relations (Public Service) Convention Collective Bargaining Convention Forced Labour Convention Abolition of Forced Labour Convention RATIFICATION RECORD 20/06/1933 13/11/1976 16/11/1976 08/12/2000 08/12/2000 04/03/1969 07/06/1963 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 Denounced on 1/02/1999, by ratification C138, about minimum age Freedom of association, collective bargaining, and industrial relations C135: Workers' Representatives Convention, 1971 C141: Rural Workers' Organisations Convention, 1975 DENOUNCED SUBJECT POSSIBILITIES FOR RATIFICATION

Forced labour

1919 Minimum Age (Industry) Convention 1919 Night Work of Young Persons (Industry) Convention 1921 1921 1973 1999 1951 1958 1976 1947 1969 1985 1919 1948 1983 1928 1949 1951 1919 1919 1921 1925 Minimum Age (Agriculture) Convention Minimum Age (Trimmers and Stokers) Convention Minimum Age Convention Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention Equal Remuneration Convention Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards) Convention Labour Inspection Convention Labour Inspection (Agriculture) Convention Labour Statistics Convention Unemployment Convention Employment Service Convention Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (Disabled Persons) Convention Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery Convention Employment Service Convention, 1948 Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery (Agriculture) Convention Hours of Work (Industry) Convention Night Work (Women) Convention Weekly Rest (Industry) Convention Night Work (Bakeries) Convention

C077: Medical Examination of Young Persons (Industry) Convention, 1946 Elimination of child labour and protection of C078: Medical Examination of Young Persons (NonIndustrial Occupations) Convention, 1946 Denounced on 1/02/1999, by ratification children and young persons 20/06/1933 C124: Medical Examination of Young Persons C138, about minimum age (Underground Work) Convention, 1965 20/06/1933 Denounced on 02:02:2001 02/02/2001 28/01/2005 07/06/1963 C156: Workers with Family Responsibilities Equality of opportunity and treatment Convention, 1981 04/03/1969 09/11/1999 13/11/1967 16/11/1976 23/03/1999 20/06/1933 31/10/1967 07/12/1989 20/06/1933 07/06/1963 04/03/1969 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 04/03/1969 07/06/1963 04/03/1969 04/03/1969 04/03/1969 Working time C171: Night Work Convention, 1990 C175: Part-Time Work Convention, 1994 Tripartite consultation Labour administration and inspection C150: Labour Administration Convention, 1978 P081: Protocol of 1995 to the Labour Inspection Convention, 1947 C096: Fee-Charging Employment Agencies Convention (Revised), 1949 C122: Employment Policy Convention, 1964 C181: Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 C094: Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Convention, 1949 C131: Minimum Wage Fixing Convention, 1970 C173: Protection of Workers' Claims (Employer's

Employment policy and promotion Conventions


1930 Hours of Work (Commerce and Offices) Convention 1936 Holidays with Pay Convention 1952 Holidays with Pay (Agriculture) Convention Abolition of Penal Sanctions (Indigenous Workers) 1955 Convention 1957 Weekly Rest (Commerce and Offices) Convention


CONV 13 62 136 161 162 167 170 174 12 17 18 19 24 25 3 21



1921 White Lead (Painting) Convention 1937 Safety Provisions (Building) Convention 1971 1985 1986 1988 1990 Benzene Convention Occupational Health Services Convention Asbestos Convention Safety and Health in Construction Convention Chemicals Convention




POSSIBILITIES FOR RATIFICATION C115: Radiation Protection Convention, 1960 C120: Hygiene (Commerce and Offices) Convention, 1964 C139: Occupational Cancer Convention, 1974 C148: Working Environment (Air Pollution, Noise and Vibration) Convention, 1977 C155: Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 C176: Safety and Health in Mines Convention, 1995 C184: Safety and Health in Agriculture Convention, 2001 C102: Social Security (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1952 C118: Equality of Treatment (Social Security Convention, 1962 C121: Employment Injury Benefits Convention, 1964 C128: Invalidity, Old-Age and Survivors' Benefits Convention, 1967 C130: Medical Care and Sickness Benefits Convention, 1969 C157: Maintenance of Social Security Rights C183: Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 C097: Migration for Employment Convention (Revised), 1949 C143: Migrant Workers (Supplementary Provisions) Convention, 1975 C055: Shipowners' Liability (Sick and Injured Seamen) Convention, 1936 C145: Continuity of Employment (Seafarers) Convention, 1976 C146: Seafarers' Annual Leave with Pay Convention, 1976 C147: Merchant Shipping (Minimum Standards) Convention, 1976 C163: Seafarers' Welfare Convention, 1987 C164: Health Protection and Medical Care (Seafarers)

Denounced on 06/09/1994, by 04/03/1969 ratification C162, about Asbestos Convention 16/11/1976 25/01/2001 25/01/2001 06/09/1994 06/09/1994 09/12/1997 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933

Occupational safety and health

1993 Prevention of Major Industrial Accidents Convention 1921 Workmen's Compensation (Agriculture) Convention 1925 Workmen's Compensation (Accidents) Convention 1925 1925 1927 1927 1919 Workmen's Compensation (Occupational Diseases) Convention Equality of Treatment (Accident Compensation) Convention Sickness Insurance (Industry) Convention Sickness Insurance (Agriculture) Convention Maternity Protection Convention

Social security

Maternity protection Migrant workers

1926 Inspection of Emigrants Convention

7 8 9 16 22 23 107 169 80 116

1920 Minimum Age (Sea) Convention 1920 Unemployment Indemnity (Shipwreck) Convention 1920 Placing of Seamen Convention Medical Examination of Young Persons (Sea) 1921 Convention 1926 Seamen's Articles of Agreement Convention 1926 Repatriation of Seamen Convention 1957 Indigenous and Tribal Populations Convention 1989 Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention 1946 Final Articles Revision Convention 1961 Final Articles Revision Convention

20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933 20/06/1933

Denounced on 1/02/1999, by ratification C138, about minimum age


20/06/1933 20/06/1933 04/03/1969 Denounced on 07:08:1991 07/08/1994 10/06/1947 04/03/1969

Indigenous and tribal peoples Not classified


Table 2. Conventions Non-ratified by Colombia Self construction, based data from ILO and National Government of Colombia


C140: Paid Educational Leave Convention, 1974 Vocational guidance C142: Human Resources Development Convention, and training 1975 Fishers C188: Work in Fishing Convention, 2007 C152: Occupational Safety and Health (Dock Work) Dockworkers Convention, 1979 C110: Plantations Convention, 1958 C149: Nursing Personnel Convention, 1977 C172: Working Conditions (Hotels and Restaurants) Convention, 1991 C177: Home Work Convention, 1996 P110: Protocol to the Plantations Convention, 1958

Specific categories of workers

Table 3. Murders of trade unionist in Colombia. January 1st, 1986 – August 7th, 2009 January 1st, 1986 – August 7th, 2009 Year No. of homicides Year No. of homicides 86 34 98 97 87 88 89 90 47 02 91 90 03 92 93 94 95 96 97 Total

60 125 85 99 00 01

140 200 104 224 274 170 04 94 05 72 06 76 07 39 08 49 09 22 2704

82 134 194 191 101

Source: Human Rights Database, ENS, Trade Union headquarters.


Table 4. Total violations. January 1st, 1986 - August 7th, 2009

Total violations. January 1st, 1986 - August 7th, 2009 Type of violation Threats Homicides Forced displacement Arbitrary detention Harassment Attack with or without injuries Disappearance Kidnapping Torture Illegal search Homicide of relatives Total Nº of cases Percentages% 4.418 2.704 1.611 633 280 237 190 162 79 47 3 10.364 42,6 26,1 15,5 6,1 2,7 2,3 1,8 1,6 0,8 0,5 0 100

Source: Human Rights Database, ENS, Trade Union headquarters.

Table 5. Total violations during Uribe Velez’ administration

August 7th, 2002 - August 7th 2009 Type of violation Threats Homicides Forced displacement Arbitrary detention Harassment Attack with or without injuries Disappearance Illegal search Kidnapping Torture Total Source: Human Rights Database, ENS Nº of cases Percentages% 2.290 505 444 291 208 71 32 29 26 19 3.915 58,5 12,9 11,3 7,4 5,3 1,8 0,8 0,7 0,7 0,5 100


Table 5. Cases in Committe on Freedom of Association
CASE No. 2731 2730 2721 2720 2719 2710 2676 PRESENTED BY National Trade Union of Civil Servants of the Colombian State (SINTRAESTATALES) on the 21-05-2009 Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CUT) and Union of Workers of EMSIRVA (SINTRAEMSIRVA E.S.P.) on the 06-07-2009 Colombian Workers' Confederation (CTC) on the 29-05-2009 General Confederation of Labour (CGT) on the 10-06-2009 National Trade Union of Workers in the Food Industry (SINALTRAINAL) on the 03-02-2009 World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) on the 04-05-2009 Trade Union Association of Workers of Road Transport of Colombia (ASCOTRACOL) on the 21-10-2008 (1)The National Union of Food Workers (SINALTRAINAL) alleges the dismissal of three workers protected by trade union immunity, the suspension of the employment contract of a trade union official, refusal to bargain collectively and failure to apply the collective agreement in force; (2) the General Confederation of Workers alleges collective dismissal on grounds of restructuring, of cleaning staff at the University of Caldas, and the collective dismissal of 31 workers of the Trade Union of Official Workers of Armenia Quindío Municipality The Union of Guards of the National Prison Service (SIGGINPEC) alleges that union members were branded as members of subversive organizations, that three union officials were dismissed while covered by trade union immunity; that disciplinary proceedings were instituted against the chairperson and the secretary of the national executive committee for holding information meetings; that union leave was denied, as was the provision of a union office and telephone line; and, lastly, that the National Prison Service (INPEC) drafted legislation aimed at changing the status of staff working in the prison guards and security service in such a way as to prevent trade union membership. For their part, the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) and the Association of Employees of the National Prison Service (ASEINPEC) also refer to the drafting of the legislative bill mentioned above and allege that a dismissal took place The complainant organizations allege pressure being put on workers to accept a collective accord, violation of the collective agreement in force, dismissals and disciplinary proceedings with respect to trade union leaders, and mass dismissals of bank workers COMPLAINT


National Union of Food Workers (SINALTRAINAL) and General Confederation of Workers (CGT) on the 10-04-2008


General Confederation of Labour (CGT), Association of Employees of the National Prison Services (ASEINPEC) and Union of Guards of the National Prison Services (SIGGINPEC) on the 24-09-2007


National Union of Workers of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria Colombia (SINTRABBVA) and National Union of Bank Employees (UNEB) on the 29-10-2007


(1) Declaration of loss of enforceability (validity) of the decisions entering in the trade union register, the founding document, executive board and by-laws of the Trade Union of Workers of Omnitempus Ltda. (SINTRAOMNITEMPUS) and subsequent dismissal of all of the officers and 80 per cent of the members; (2) refusal by the administrative authority to enter the Trade Union of Workers of the Silvania Lighting Single Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CUT), National Trade International Enterprise (SINTRAESLI) in the trade union register; (3) Union of Workers of Omnitempus Ltda (SINTRAOMNITEMPUS), refusal by the administrative authority to register María Gilma Barahona National Unitary Trade Union of Official Workers and Public Servants Roa as national controller (fiscal) of the National Unitary Trade Union of of the State (SINUTSERES) and Trade Union of Workers of the Silvania Official Workers and Public Servants of the State (SINUTSERES) and her Lighting International Enterprise (SINTRAESLI) on the 15-02-2007 subsequent dismissal, along with other union officers and over 20 employees of the National Local Road Fund, which is in the process of being liquidated, in which Ms Barahona Roa was employed; and (4) refusal by the administrative authority to register the executive committee of the Soacha Cundinamarca Colombia branch of the same trade union National Federation of State and Public Service Workers (UNETE) — the Joint Union of Workers in Decentralized Institutions of the Municipality of Buenaventura (SINTEDMUNICIPIO) — the Union of Workers of the Municipality of Buenaventura — the General Restructuring of public institutions, mass dismissals without lifting trade Confederation of Labour (CGT) — the Union of Labour Inspectors and union immunity, refusal of registration and refusal to engage in collective Public Employees of the Ministry of Social Protection (SINFUMIPROS) bargaining with public employees and — the Association of Public Servants of the Ministry of Defence and the Health Service Institutions of the Armed Forces and the National Police (ASEMIL) on the 10-08-2006 Anti-union dismissals in the context of restructuring beginning in March 2004 within the AVIANCA-SAM-HELICOL group of companies; rehiring of dismissed workers through work cooperatives, depriving them of coverage under the collective agreement with the group; threats against trade union officials, failure to comply with the collective agreement, pressure on individuals to sign a (non-union) collective accord and dismissals of trade union officials; non-compliance with a collective agreement and signing of a (non-union) collective accord



The National Union of Employees of AVIANCA (SINTRAVA), the Single Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CUT), the Colombian Association of Civil Aviators (ACDAC) and the Colombian Association of Aviation Mechanics (ACMA) on the 03-06-2004


International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), Latin American Central of Workers (CLAT), World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), Single Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CUT), General Confederation of Democratic Workers (CGTD), Confederation Murders and other acts of violence against trade union officials and of Workers of Colombia (CTC), Trade Union Association of Civil members, and cases of anti-union dismissal Servants of the Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces, National Police and Related Bodies (ASODEFENSA), Petroleum Industry Workers' Trade Union (USO) and World Confederation of Labour (WCL) and others on the 28-06-1994



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Author's Note: I have made the translations of the texts from Constitution of Colombia, according with my judgment, trying to preserve the essence of the articles. Similarly, I have translated the passage of One Hundred Years of Solitude, concerning to "the banana massacre"