Colombia: GUFs, the BWI and peace are coming

 

For years, the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) and other Global Union Federations (GUF), organizations who promotes human rights worldwide, organizations of the United Nations and the Inter-American system expressed their rejection of killings, disappearances, intimidation and persecution of trade unions leaders, social and human rights activists, who were victims of violence for nearly six decades in Colombia. Conservative data shows that around 3,300 union leaders were missed during this time. 


Now, that the signing of the protocols for the ceasefire in late August and the convocatory for a referendum (October 2nd, 2016) for citizens’ approval to the peace agreements reached between the parties in the city of Havana has been reached, the national and international trade union movement has turned on the lights to promote "YES" in this process. 


From all corners of the world of work, pronouncements of support for the peace process has been given. The Building and Wood Workers' International have expressed its accompaniments to this process through notes, events and publications sent to affiliates and other fraternal groups as the Intergremial of Construction Workers and Wood of Colombia. Both the BWI Regional Representative in the region: Nilton Freitas as the BWI General Secretary himself: Alberto Emilio Yuson have expressed on several occasions, the solidarity without borders and the impulse that this process requires, accompanying at all times its affiliated organizations. 


On last Thursday, September 15th it was held in Medellin, the International Day for YES to the peace in the Plebiscito. The activity counted with the participation of representatives of Global Union Federations (GUF's) with presence in Colombia as: UNI, PSI, ITF, IUF IndustriALL, and BWI as well as the most representative Trade Union Confederation as CTC, CUT, CGT, TUCA and ITUC. To the forum also participated national unions who promotes the YES. The total number of participants from around the country were nearly 5,000 people. The main figure in this panel was the former President of Uruguay: Pepe Mujica who emphasized that tolerance and respect are necessary in this type of process. 


Báez, TUCA General Secretary described this day in Medellin as "the biggest political event held in the country regarding to the YES campaign, which demonstrate that the trade union movement worldwide will always defend peace as a principle". 


Meanwhile, Wienen of ITUC expressed the importance of the unitary initiative of the organizations participating in the event, saying that "it is encouraging and deserves great respect, that despite their suffering, their sacrifice and the loss of so many comrades the trade union movement is ready to continue to play a crucial role in monitoring and implementation of the peace agreement". 


Luis Alejandro Pedraza of the United Workers Central (CUT); Miguel Morantes of the Confederation of Workers of Colombia (CTC); and Julio Roberto Gomez, President of the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), highlighted commonalities like: "3,300 trade unionists killed and 8 million victims are enough reasons to say YES to peace", but even this process does not mean support the policies of the actual Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. 


Both, Alberto Emilio Yuson, BWI General Secretary and Nilton Freitas agreed in their notes of support sent to its members saying that: "the future is encouraging in a country with such a big potential for investment in infrastructure. We expect that the process for peace serve as an example for the unity of trade union action and union work for better working conditions in the industry, workers and government in Colombia", ended Freitas in his note. 


For its part, the Colombia Chapter of the GUF's, the platform that brings together Global Union Federations such IndustriALL, ITF, PSI, UNI, IUF and BWI in this country said, in a joint statement: "the commitment of these organizations and their affiliates nationals bet for stable and lasting peace in the country".