Colombian army attacks strikers
Coal mine invaded by army on behalf of Swiss Multinational
The Colombian army with armed paramilitaries has invaded the Coal mine La Jagua in order to break up a strike which was declared on the 16th of May
TROOPS AND ARMED “CIVILIANS” TRANSPORTED BY HELICOPTER BURST INTO THE COAL MINE IN JAGUA DE IBIRICO (CESAR, COLOMBIA) BELONGING TO THE SWISS MULTINATIONAL GLENCORE A.G. TO PREVENT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE STRIKE.
The Lives of the Workers are in grave danger
The undersigned social and human rights organizations denounce the military and “civilian” assault on the mine in La Jagua where a strike was declared two days ago: We urgently call upon the solidarity of social, human rights and trade union organizations, political parties and politicians to speak out to the multinational and the Swiss government and its respective embassies demanding that they respect the lives and the physical integrity of the workers as well as an immediate withdrawal of troops from the mining installations.
In the midst of an agressive military operation troops from the Colombian Army in helicopters burst into the mine Carbones de la Jagua (subsiduary of the Swiss Co. Glencore) which is a clear act of intimidation against the workers who went on strike on 16th of May. This aggresive operation not only aims to treat a labour dispute as a “public order” problem it aslo constitutes a provocation of the workers affiliated to the SINTRAMINERGETICA branch in La Jagua who faced with the negative response of the company to solve their demands in working conditions and social investment exercised their legimate right to strike in line with the Constitution and Colombian law.
At the same time that the troops entered the mine, “civilians” also entered claiming to be from the company’s security, (without being able to demonstrate this). It shouldn’t be forgotten that this region is under the thumb of the paramilitaries that carry out the “dirty work” against the trade unions and people’s organizations in the area. Furthermore they openly work with the military, which receives funding from the mining companies in the area.
Alongside this there is a complete lack of guarantees for the workers representatives in SINTRAMINERGETICA (national) and FUNTRAMINERGETICA to carry out their work. In this environment the tolerant attitude of the functionaries of the Minstry of Social Protection towards the companies which allows the sub contracted operator Mastering to remain in the complex as if there was a normal situation.
Through the military assault which puts in danger the lives of the workers, the company’s sabotage which prevents the normal development of the strike and the “indifference” of the authorities in the affair they aim to deny the workers of Carbones de la Jagua their legitimate right to strike (guaranteed by the Colombian Constitution) , whose only aim is the effective solution of the demands that they presented in the framework of the law.
The company Glencore A.G. began its operations in Colombia introducing a paragraph in Article 27 of the Mining Code, through subterfuge, which reduced its royalty payments to 0.4% whilst other operators pay 15%. This company operates in Cesar (C.I Prodeco and Carbones de la Jagua) and Guajira (Cerrejón) and is also involved in the privatisation of the Ecopetrol oil refinery in Cartegena. On the board of directors of this company there are ex members of the armed forces who have been accused of grave violations of human rights in Colombia. Internationally, the FBI brought 65 charges against Marc Rich the owner of Glencore and they persued him for 29 years. He evaded taxes to the tune of 48 million dollars. He was eventuall pardoned by the Clinton and Bush administrations having made contributions to both their campaigns.
The Colombian State to guarantee the lives and physical integrity of all the workers and allow them to exercise their right to strike defined in law, the Colombian Constitution and the Conentions of the ILO. That they immediately withdraw the troops and the armed “civilians” que are preventing the free development of the strike.
That the representatives of the Multinational Glencore A.G. allow the workers to exercise their right to strike and negotiate, that it not use military force to solve their differences with the union and that it recognises the basic working conditions of their employees.
That the Swiss government and its embassy in Colombia intervene before the Uribe Velez government in order that it not harm the workers in Sintraminergetica, that it withdraw the troops and armed “civilian” personnel and that it demand of its companies that they respect the human rights of the Colombian workers.
That the International Committee of the Red Cross intervene to protect the civilians, in this case the defenceless workers that have been attacked by the army (an armed actor) which receives funds from Glencore A.G.
La Jagua de Ibirico – Cesar, May 19th 2006
Favor enviar comunicaciones a las autoridades colombianas, a la multinacional Glencore a la embajada de Suiza en Colombia, al Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja, con copia a Sintramienergetica.
Please send communiques to the Colombian Authorities, to the multinational Glencore, the Swiss Embassy in Colombia, the International Ctte of the Red Cross with a copy to Sintraminergetica. firstname.lastname@example.org
EMBAJADOR DE SUIZA. SR. VICTOR CHRISTEN.
The Chief Executive, GLENCOR, Baarermattstrasse
3 - CH-6341 Baar - Switzerland
Presidencia de la República
Vicepresidencia de la República
Ministro de Minas y Energía
Ministro de Protección Social.
Procuraduría General de la Nación
Defensoría del Pueblo.
Comité Internacional de la Cruz
Misión Permanente de Colombia ante
las Naciones Unidas en Ginebra.