No. 44/2004


  2 November 2004



  The HTML version of this ICEM UPDATE is on line at:



  The following is from the International Federation of

  Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions






Denying Entry to Unionists Confirms Colombia's Trade Union Harassment



The international trade union movement, including the

ICEM today expressed its outrage at the expulsion of four

international union representatives from Colombia on 30

October and 1 November, on the order of the government of

President Alvaro Uribe Velez. It is understood that the

Uribe government has drawn up a list of trade union

representatives banned from entering the country, and that

this list includes persons who took part in an

international solidarity mission* to Colombia in September,

to press the Uribe government to bring an end to the

killing of Colombian trade unionists and the other means of

anti-union repression which are rife in the country.

Colombia has had a notorious record of violence and

discrimination against trade unionists over many years,

with more than 50 trade unionists murdered already this



The four, Victor Baez Mosqueira, General Secretary of the

ICFTU regional organisation for the Americas ICFTU-ORIT,

Antonio Rodriguez Fritz (International Transport Workers'

Federation), Rodolfo Benitez (Union Network International)

and Cameron Duncan (Public Services International), were

due to attend an Americas region trade union coordination

meeting. Immigration officials detained them on arrival in

the country and expelled them, in contradiction to

Colombia's normal visa entry requirements. Three of them

had taken part in a meeting with President Uribe during the

September solidarity mission, where the President assured

the delegation of his government's full commitment to trade

union rights, and thanked them for their interest in the

situation inside the country.


In another development, union leaders from Great Britain,

Ireland and Spain who had arrived in Colombia to attend a

meeting of women trade unionists had their 60-day visas

cancelled and were permitted to stay only three days in the



The ICFTU and Global Union Federation partners including

the ICEM are writing to formally protest to President Uribe

at his government's actions, which constitute a "totally

unacceptable attempt to deny Colombian workers their

legitimate right to international representation,"

according to ICFTU General Secretary Guy Ryder, who added,

"The Colombian government has a responsibility to protect

trade unionists from violence and intimidation and to

ensure that fundamental rights, enshrined in International

Labour Organisation Conventions, are fully respected. This

action by the government is entirely in the wrong

direction, and we call upon President Uribe to restore the

right of entry to all those affected, and to face up to its

obligations under international law".


The expulsion of the trade union leaders will also be

brought formally to the International Labour Organisation,

which is this week examining a number of complaints from

the trade union movement over violations of freedom of

association in the country.


Global Unions' member organisations in countries

around the world will also be raising the case with their

national governments, and with intergovernmental and regional bodies

including the European Union. Meetings with the Colombian Ambassadors in

Brussels, Geneva and other cities are also being sought.






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