Colombian union leader speaks out against death threats and anti-union behaviour
President of Colombian care union, SINTRASALUDCOl, Luz Fany Zambrano, highlights serious issues, during ILO meeting
Luz Fany Zambrano, President of the biggest Colombian care union, SINTRASALUDCOL, participated in the UNICARE Global Union Delegation at the tripartite ILO Meeting on improving working conditions for care workers. She spoke out against the Colombian government’s anti-union behaviour at state-controlled companies Cafesalud and ESIMED.
Zambrano said, “The company and the government try to get rid of unionized workers and violate workers’ rights. Some workers received no salary for several months and union dues have been stolen by these government-controlled companies.”
She also highlighted the third death threat made against SINTRASALUDCOL leaders in the past twelve months, “We are in a big struggle with the government and Cafesalud for better working conditions and quality care for patients. Since we began this fight, our leaders have regularly received death threats. Decent work, collective bargaining and respect for workers’ rights in the care sector are key ingredients for a sustainable peace and growing economy. These death threats against unionists must stop. The government and the companies have to make sure that this stops.”
In the plenary session about social dialogue, the workers’ group addressed the problems in the care sector in Colombia: “Health workers are restricted from exercising the right to protest, while union dues are unilaterally retained by the government. Trade union leaders continue to be stigmatised, and limitations have been placed on trade union activities, whilst rank and file workers are intimidated when they try to exercise the right of association. Within this context, it is virtually impossible to talk of social dialogue as anything but illusory”.
UNICARE will work to make sure that the right of Collective Bargaining and Freedom of Association will finally be fully respected in the care sector in Colombia. Adrian Durtschi, Director of UNICARE, reiterated that, “President Santos and the companies ESIMED and Cafesalud need to take action to ensure that attacks against unions stop immediately. There is no time to wait.”