Solidarity with Colombia

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2004 National Delegate Conference
9 June 2004
Carried as Amended

Conference notes that in Colombia:

1)184 trade unionists were assassinated in 2002, and that in all 7,000 people were victims of the political conflict, mostly peasants, indigenous people and the poor;

2)President Uribe Velez has opted for repression rather than negotiations, suspending democratic rights and implementing military rule in two regions, and increasing dramatically detentions of trade unionists and social movements;

3)The government of President Uribe Velez plans to close or privatise 800 of Colombia’s 1100 public hospitals, meaning many poor families will be unable to afford basic health care, infant mortality will rise, and preventable diseases like cholera will increase. Over the past two years, 93 members of Colombian public sector union ANTHOC have been assassinated by paramilitaries, often in collusion with the Colombian army. Many are also currently behind bars solely for their trade union activities;

4)that Uribe has introduced in IMF-led programme of cuts, wage freeze, reduction of pension rights across the state sector and that SINTRAEMCALE (utility workers), ANTHOC (health workers), SINTRAUNICOL (university workers) and USO (energy workers) and other unions are involved in significant struggles against the liquidation of state corporations and privatisation of public services.

5)President Bush provides $600 million to the military, and US forces are concentrated in the oil producing areas;

6)Many multinational corporations, including BP, Coca Cola, Nestle, Anglo-American and Billiton, are profiting from a regime that allows them to avoid the costs of respecting trade union rights, the environment and communities while being deeply implicated in military and paramilitary violence. We have a responsibility to hold British multinational corporations to account for their role;

Conference further notes that the London summit convened by the UK Government in July 2003 boosted the image of Uribe internationally and paved the way for greater financial assistance.

Conference believes that:

a)a negotiated solution between the state and the guerrilla movements is essential for peace and social justice to be achieved;

b)all UK military aid to Colombia should cease;

c)there needs to be a permanent, independent monitoring of multinationals in Colombia that takes into full account the views of communities and trade unions;

d)asylum rights should be offered to Colombians fleeing persecution until such time as they can return.

Conference resolves to:

i)call for a halt to the privatisation of public services which will be harmful to the majority of Colombians and push the poor further into poverty;

ii)deepen support for SINTRAEMCALI and SINTRAUNICOL, and expand relations with ANTHOC and USO, and build relations with other trade unions in Colombia;

iii)support the Justice for Colombia campaign to stop UK military links with or aid to the Colombian military;

iv)support Justice for Colombia’s political prisoners project, launched in partnership with ANTHOC, the Committee for Solidarity with Political Prisoners, human rights lawyers and others, including the Women’s Committee of London UNISON, and do what we can to assist our brave Colombian colleagues;

v)continue affiliation to the Colombian Solidarity Campaign and Justice for Colombia and circulate their educational and campaigning materials to the membership, whilst co-operating with all other relevant non-governmental organisations and initiatives;

vi)support the call to boycott Coca Cola products;

vii)contribute to and co-operate with the Permanent Observatory on Multinationals and Human Rights, with special concern for pressures to privatise public services;

viii)explore the feasibility of establishing mutual exchange programmes with Colombian trade unions.