Cape Town - Globalisation has come to the aid of trade unions in Colombia, where activists often face the threat not just of harassment, but also detention, torture and assassination. By focussing on the headquarters of transnational companies operating in this repressive South American state, unions have begun to gain recognition and are growing.
According to Colombian delegates to the UNI Global Union world congress in Cape Town, conditions remain difficult, with trade union organisers often labelled terrorists and treated as such. But in one case, a union with just 112 members has grown to 13 000 strong.
“What we need is social dialogue,” said a delegate from the capital, Bogota. However, where breakthroughs had been made, such as in the foreign owned pulp and paper sector, recognition agreements had been signed and wage rises of between 11% and 17% won.
But, as another delegate noted, Colombia remained “one of the most dangerous countries for trade unions”.