Colombia: Sugar Cane Workers Fired After Forming Union
Sugarcane workers at the La Cabaña plantation in Valle De Cauca, Colombia, are taking part in a peaceful protest to seek recognition of their rights as workers. More than 100 workers at the La Cabaña plantation have been fired since forming a union in November, and another 500 have been forced to disaffiliate to retain their jobs, according to the union.
Management has refused to recognize the union, Sintrainagro, or bargain collectively with the 600 primarily Afro-Colombian workers. The union, affiliated with the Central Unitario de Trabajadores (CUT), has made several unsuccessful attempts to negotiate with the company and has engaged in talks with the Ministry of Labor, which promised to investigate the situation but has yet taken no action, according to the union. Union leaders say this is a clear violation of the 2011 Colombian Labor Action Plan, in which the Colombian government committed to lead legal reforms to prevent labor intermediation that prevent unionization of workers and protection of worker rights.
Sintrainagro is a member of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations (IUF), which reports that La Cabaña is the only major plantation in the area that has refused to hire workers directly after sugarcane workers waged a major strike in 2008 seeking formal work contracts with living wages and improved job safety and health.