Since last January 13th, 185 workers of the
firm Palo Alto Gnecco Espinosa – a
business dealing with the harvest and
processing of African palm in the Ciénaga
region – have been occupying the
establishment as a result of being laid off
and following an attempt to clear them at
gunpoint in response to their unionization.
A new meeting was held yesterday at the
Ministry of Labor. Sirel spoke with Hernán
Correa, the acting chairman of SINTRAINAGRO,
to get an insight of the encounter.
-What is your opinion on the meeting held
yesterday at the Ministry of Labor?
-We were there with Luis Alejandro
Pedraza, where he acted as
representative of both the Single
Confederation of Workers of Colombia
along with the Vice-president of the
National CUT agency, Gustavo Triana,
with whom we made special mention of the
need to have the Ministry intervene in an
urgent and efficient manner.
We tried to find out about the measures that
will be taken to demand the company to
acknowledge the Union, and to start
negotiations, and particularly about the
measures that will be decided to guarantee
the physical security of workers that are
currently occupying the establishment.
Those workers have received threats from
illegal armed groups and
despite the police custody at the site, we
fear that our fellow-workers are not safe
Also, we set up a meeting for Friday at
Ciénaga to include representatives from
the Ministry, the Attorney General’s Office,
and the Police. At that meeting we will be
discussing, apart from the conflict at the
establishment, another situation that has
become worrisome at
(formerly owned by
Chiquita Brands- Banadex),
in the Urabá region.
-What are your expectations in regards to
-The situation appears quite complicated,
since this company has no respect for
anything, or anyone, not even the government
authorities. It is possible that the company
representatives not even attend the meeting,
since they are not interested in
conversations with the government, let alone
negotiating with the Union. But we will wait
until the 29th to have a better
outlook on the progress of this conflict and
the actions that will be decided upon.
-What about the state of mind of the
morale is still high, but they need logistic
and financial support to face the battle,
because they have their families to support…
is giving a hand in this sense. A nationwide
campaign is now under way to obtain help for
these workers and their families as we await
a negotiated solution for the conflict.