BOGOTA, Colombia, May 24, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Minister of Social Protection in Colombia has fined Sodexo $2,678,000 pesos ($1,425.00 US Dollars) each day they refuse to negotiate with Sinaltrainal and ordered Sodexo to "start direct talks with trade union organization National Union of Agro-System SINALTRAINAL without delay." Sodexo workers in Colombia have been trying to form a union to bargain higher wages, payment for overtime and other benefits for more than a year.
Working conditions in Colombia for Sodexo workers at remote sites like the Carbones de la Jagua Mine can be grim. According to a report put out by TransAfrica Forum, a human rights organization in the United States, workers there report that they frequently work 16 hours or more without overtime pay to which they believe they are entitled for extra hours or nighttime hours. One worker reported that her workday ran from 4:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day without the overtime pay she believes she is owed, and due to her workload could not stop to take a lunch break. Another worker reported that her workload was so heavy she had to work from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m. with no overtime pay, at one point working 23 consecutive days without a day off.
The minister reaffirmed earlier decisions that rejected claims by Sodexo that it was under no obligation to bargain with Sinaltrainal and ordered Sodexo to initiate bargaining with Sinaltrainal immediately.