Brinks Stinks: Pollution, Discrimination and Union Busting in Colombia
On July 25, unions across the world will raise their voices to support Brinks workers in Colombia. SINTRABRINKS and UNI affiliates will gather in front of Brinks' corporate offices in Bogota to tell the company to stop squashing human and labour rights and give wrongfully dismissed trade union leader, Romer Diaz, his job back.
Diaz has been calling on Brinks to reduce the emissions from its vehicles in Bogota--to prevent health problems among employees and the city’s residents. On May 23, 2019, Díaz formally requested the intervention of the Ministry of Environment in this regard. On May 29, Brinks sent him a letter informing him of the termination of his employment contract.
Diaz has also been active promoting equal pay. Women are clustered into low paying jobs at Brinks Colombia. For example, the workers in the position called "Cashier 2" in Brinks’ "internal operations" are an estimated 80 percent women. These employees earn around $930,000 COP (approximately $300 USD) per month. Meanwhile "external operations" (cash-in-transit) employ an all-male workforce has salaries that range from $1,260,000, to $1,460,000 COP. A basic calculation would indicate that women working as cashiers earn around 65 percent of what men earn in external operations.
Last year, the union SINTRABRINKS, where Diaz is a recognized leader, sat down to negotiate employment conditions with Brinks, demanding equal pay for cashiers. In response to Brinks’ inflexibility at the negotiating table, some 850 workers (of 1270 who participated in elections, or 67 percent) voted to go on strike. Since then, the union has grown steadily, and women working in the area of internal operations have begun to join its ranks.
Unfortunately, this growth has prompted the company to start a union-busting campaign, of which the attacks against Romer Diaz are part. Brinks claims it fired Diaz for organizing a raffle and not showing up to work for two Sunday shifts in February 2019, although his contract inidctaes he was not obligated to do so. More likely, Brinks is looking to derail Diaz´s union elections, which are set to take place next week. The company has refused access for union officials to speak with internal operations employees and denied its permission to represent unionized workers in disciplinary procedures; these would both seem to be flagrant violations of workers´ rights to due process and freedom of association.
Brinks is a US-based company with operations in 131 countries and is one of the world’s largest private security corporations. Romer Diaz is a trade union leader who has been conducting advocacy to urge Brinks to reduce the emissions of its vehicles in Bogota and prevent health problems among employees and the city’s residents. Due to this situation we are rising our voices on this day of action to tell Brinks: stop union busting, respect human rights and end the legal attacks against Romer Diaz in Colombia!
If you need more information please contact Neil Martin: Neil.Martin@uniglobalunion.org