UNI’s message has been picked up by leading broadcast and print media in Colombia and the region, including El Mundo, La Colombiano and El Dinero.
During a press conference before the opening of the 4th UNI Americas Conference in Medellin, Colombia, UNI Americas’ Regional Secretary Adriana Rosenzvaig and UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings called for change in Colombia.
Jennings said, “We come to Colombia with a message about a modern form of unionism which binds both global and local together. Colombia needs a new culture in its approach to unionism, the labour market and industrial relations. The current model means Colombia will not succeed in the global economy.”
“Our message to the private sector is that they must work with us to create a new place for social dialogue based on tolerance not violence.”
“It’s not rocket science, there are solutions. Colombia will not thrive when almost 70% of workers are sub-contracted or in the informal economy. This must be reduced – only when there is stability and people are able to save, spend and invest can the country grow. Driving down wages and security does not work. Neither does having only 1% of workers covered by collective bargaining. Labour market institutions must be respected. Without these improvements, it’s as if Colombia is driving with its foot on the brake. There will be no entry into the OECD until Colombia has addressed its labour issues.”
“It’s also a brake on the true competitiveness of business. Of course, this country is poorer because of fifty years of war. UNI and its 20 million members worldwide will be praying that the constitutional court makes the right call next week and Colombia continues on the path to peace. There will be a peace dividend, economically, socially and for labour. This opportunity should be seized.”
Rosenzvaig took up the point that some multinational companies who have come to Colombia and other Latin American countries are still reading from the old book of unacceptable labour relations. She cited Prosegur as a particularly dark example.
“We have a litany of labour abuses by Spanish security company Prosegur in Latin America, not least here in Colombia. Prosegur is well aware of its actions. They know complaints against them are with the OECD. UNI will continue to hold Prosegur to account until they change their ways and stop their anti-worker, anti-union activities.”