PITTSBURGH, June 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers made clear to Colombian and U.S. authorities that it supports the Colombian Drummond workers represented by Sintramienergetica in their fight for better wages and improvements to health and safety practices.
In a letter to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Velez and copied to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, USW International President Leo W. Gerard asked that the Colombian government protect the striking union members during this critical time.
"In light of the fact that negotiations and strikes subject union members, and especially union leaders, to possible attacks by right-wing paramilitaries" in Colombia, Gerard wrote, "we ask that the government take all necessary precautions to protect the striking union members and their leaders."
Drummond itself, taking issue with the strike vote conducted by the Sintraminergetica union, has announced to the press that it would view a strike by Sintramienergetica's members as "illegal."
The current conflict between Sintramienergetica and Drummond comes on the heels of a U.S. District Court decision to allow Colombian plaintiffs to proceed against Drummond in a case in which they allege that Drummond conspired with paramilitaries in the killing of scores of individuals along Drummond's rail transport lines in Colombia.
As Gerard's letter itself notes, this conflict also arises in the context of the paramilitary slayings in 2001 of the three top union leaders who worked at the Drummond mines.
The USW represents about 850,000 members in the United States and Canada who are employed in a wide variety of industries and sectors, ranging from mining and minerals to the steel, rubber and paper industries to the service and public sectors.
CONTACT: Tony Montana (412) 562-2592
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)