Colombia Action Plan Falls Well Short in Critical Human, Labor Rights Protections
WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Teamsters Union today raised serious concerns over the Obama administration's "Action Plan" related to labor rights in Colombia, which appears to be a precursor to sending a Colombia Free Trade Agreement to Congress. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa said the spirit of the Action Plan is a step in the right direction, but the plan does not go nearly far enough to ensure that Colombia will eventually meet the standards set by the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Colombia has a disturbing record of violence against trade unionists, with more than 2,850 men and women murdered over the last 25 years for trying to exercise their right to organize in the workplace. Since 2007, when President Bush signed the last trade agreement with Colombia, there have been nearly 200 murders of trade unionists, with six occurring in 2011 alone – two in the past week.
"While I appreciate the Obama administration's efforts to raise human and labor rights standards in Colombia, the Teamsters Union has very real concerns over how this action plan will be implemented and enforced," Hoffa said. "Colombia must demonstrate and document a true commitment to bringing their labor laws into compliance with ILO standards before the United States can even entertain the idea of entering into another trade agreement with them.
"Signing a trade agreement with Colombia before it has shown the necessary improvement in labor laws and protections would be premature. The Colombian government could make any promise to secure this trade agreement. Until they actually fulfill those promises, we should not commit to a trade agreement with Colombia," Hoffa said.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, please visit www.Teamster.org.