Two More Banana Workers Murdered in Colombia as Free Trade Agreement is Debated in DC

by Paul Garver

The AFL-CIO remains strongly opposed to the proposed U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement “until Colombia takes sustained, meaningful, and measurable action to change the culture of violence that plagues those who work to better their lives.” It is too soon to know if the promises made in the Labor Action Plan (a side agreement not part of the proposed trade treaty) will rise above the level of good intentions to benefit Colombia’s workers.

In an August 4 letter, AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka stated:

“Congress should not act prematurely on the first signs of good intentions, but should rather wait for clear and convincing evidence over a sustained period of time that the facts on the ground have changed before acting on the Colombia Trade Agreement.”

The assassination of two more banana workers’ union members underscored the weakness of the “Labor Action Plan” by which the government of Colombia has promised to end the decades-long violent assault on the labor movement. On 31st July two banana workers’ union members were murdered in the municipality of Apartadó, Wilmar Serna, banana worker and workers committee member, and Eduardo Fabian Zúñiga Vásquez, also a banana worker. Their union SINTRAINAGRO is one of the few remaining private sector unions in Colombia, and the only one with a national bargaining agreement.

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Colombian Banana Workers Win Strike

banana strike victory

by Paul Garver

On 20 May 17,000 banana workers in Colombia ended their two week long mass strike on nearly 300 plantations in Urabà province, agreeing on a two year contract with improved wages and benefits. The agreement was reached a few hours ahead of a projected global support mobilization by the IUF.

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Banana Workers Strike in Colombia

banana strike 2

by Paul Garver

17,000 banana workers have been on strike since 8th May at 296 plantations in the Urabà province of Colombia. The originally economic strike has taken on new significance because of hostile actions by certain plantation owners and government officials.

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