UNISONScotland www
This is our archive website that is no longer being updated.
For the new website please go to
Click here
Home News About us Join Us Contacts Help Resources Learning Links UNISON UK
Scotland in UNISON


National Delegate Conference 17-20 June 2008

UNISON condemns violence and abuse against trade unionists in Colombia

by Jane Aitchison

Angela Lynes
Angela Lynes
Guillermo Rivera

UNISON condemned the continuing violence and abuse against trade unionists, social movements and civic society organisations in Colombia and pledged to support its sister trade unions and play an active role in Justice for Colombia and the Colombian Solidarity Campaign.

Angela Lynes illustrated the plight of trade unionists in Colombia, living under constant threats to not only to their jobs but to their lives and the lives of their families. Colombian trade unionist are the victims of selective, systematic and persistent violence and the International Trade Union Confederation reported that over 90% of cases were unpunished and many murders have not been investigated.

Angela said "According to Amnesty International, human rights defenders, trade unionists, social and community activists, and journalists continue to be targeted, principally by paramilitaries. In February, some 70 NGOs, trade unions and other social organisations reportedly received e-mail death threats from paramilitaries."

"But not all the blame can be placed at the door of the government and the paramilitaries. According to Amnesty, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) were blamed for many killings of candidates in the run-up to last October's local elections, the FARC and similar organizations, were held responsible for the killing of over 200 civilians last year."


Colombian trade unionist 'disappeared'

Guillermo Rivera, the president of SINSERPUB (Sindicato de Servidores Publicos), the Union of Public Servants in Colombia disappeared on 22 April after taking his daughter to school in the ‘Tunal' neighbourhood of Bogota and has not been seen since.

Witnesses reported seeing him being bundled into a police car. He was also an active member of the Polo Democratico - the main opposition party in Colombia.

Ana Lucia Pinzon leader of Colombian public sector workers' trade union FENALTRASE speaking at UNISON's service groups conference said: '[Colombia] is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a trade union member. Thousands of my colleagues have been killed in recent years - 26 so far this year.'

As international pressure mounts for details of Guillermo's disappearance, UNISON members are urged to write to the Colombian Ambassador in London demanding that her Government give details of Guillermo's disappearance at the hands of the police.

HE Ambassador Noemi Sanin Posada Colombian Embassy 3 Hans Crescent London SW1X 0LN Also write to the Foreign Office asking the British Embassy in Bogota to bring the case up with the Colombian authorities. David Miliband Secretary of State FCO Kings Charles St London SW1