Letter: Support GM workers in Colombia here at homeIn 2009, General Motors received a 50 million dollar bailout from U.S. taxpayers. It is apparent now that GM is on the road to recovery, as it recently announced it would buy back 200 million of its shares from the Treasury Department.
By: Dale Moerke, President, Southwest Central Labor Council/AFL-CIO, Luverne, Worthington Daily Globe
In 2009, General Motors received a 50 million dollar bailout from U.S. taxpayers. It is apparent now that GM is on the road to recovery, as it recently announced it would buy back 200 million of its shares from the Treasury Department.
I have high expectations for General Motors but am deeply disturbed of GM’s failure to meet minimum standards of corporate responsibility in its international operations. Occupationally disabled General Motors workers in Colombia are on strike in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, a location they have occupied continuously and peacefully for 500 days. One of the workers has been on a hunger strike for over a month.
These workers seek the medical treatment and health insurance coverage to which they are entitled under Colombian law and any plausible standard of justice. They ask for re-training and re-employment at jobs they can physically perform or disability income if they are incapacitated. Furthermore, they need compensation for the severe economic losses they and their families have suffered during their extended unemployment.
The workers were illegitimately dismissed from their jobs, as confirmed by the Colombian government’s punishment of a labor inspector who authorized these terminations.
GM has refused to offer any reasonable remedy, and most recently, on Aug. 31, a mediation session ended without a settlement. Witness for Peace, a nationwide grassroots organization that supports peace, justice and sustainable economies in the Americas, is working closely with the injured GM workers, and their campaign in the U.S. has gone nationwide. The demands to GM Detroit:
* Immediately negotiate with Asotrecol.
* Recognize workers’ injuries as occupational and provide adequate medical care.
* Pay pensions for disabled workers and rehire those still able to work.
* Compensate workers for economic damages.
* Recognize Asotrecol as a GM union.
We must hold our corporations accountable and expect full guarantees of labor rights and ethical practices in the U.S. and worldwide.
Show your solidarity by expressing your concerns at your local GM dealership and by asking them to urge GM headquarters to respect the rights of GM workers in Colombia.