Thousands on strike in Colombia

3,500 workers are on strike in protest at temporary employment contracts in the world's most dangerous nation to be a trade unionist.

Submitted by Ed on March 10, 2008

Members of the Sintracerromatoso union at the nickel mine operated by Cerro Matoso, a subsidiary of the multinational company, BHP Billiton, have begun a strike after negotiations failed to produce an agreement with the company.

Two weeks ago, Utramicol, an IMF affiliate, reported on the situation of the Cerro Matoso workers, who had indicated then that there had been no significant progress in negotiations because of the company’s intransigence.

The union is demanding improved contracts and is especially concerned about the temporary employment contracts used by the company. The union insists that the company signs open-ended employment contracts with workers currently employed on temporary contracts.

It also rejects the company’s proposal to increase the length of the contract from two to four years. Historically, the contract has always been for two years.

Approximately 3,500 workers are on strike. Roger Herrera, union president said: “The company only has 1,000 directly employed workers. The other 2,500 are temporary workers and this means the company can avoid recognising their basic employment rights.”