date: 27 November 2012
embargo: For immediate release
The TUC has expressed deep regret at the decision taken today (Tuesday) by the International Trade Committee of the European Parliament to support an EU/Colombia free trade agreement.
The TUC believes the European Parliament is wrong to give the Colombian government such a big stamp of approval at a time when trade union activists in the country are still living with the constant fear of violence and intimidation.
Trade unions in Colombia - backed by the TUC along with the European and International Trade Union Confederations - have appealed to the EU to oppose the agreement, fearing that the decision would be seen as a major endorsement for a government which has yet to deal with the culture of violence and impunity that surrounds these attacks.
Commenting on today's vote, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'It's appalling that the EU seems willing to adopt a trade agreement with Colombia, a country where 225 trade unionists have been murdered in the past five years.
'Colombia needs to learn that if it wants to trade with the rest of the world, it needs to put a stop to the killings and the culture of impunity that have made the country the most dangerous place to live in the world for anyone connected with unions. I hope that when the agreement comes before the full Parliament next month that MEPs will follow their consciences and oppose the agreement.'
The TUC, along with the ETUC and ITUC, is proposing a series of key changes that the European Parliament should be demanding before any free trade agreement with Colombia come into effect. This includes:
- An end to impunity for violence against trade unionists
- A genuine freedom for all Colombian workers to join unions
- The introduction of a proper system of inspection for Colombian workplaces
- Proper discussions - involving unions, employers and the government - to make all the above a reality.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
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Issued: 27 November, 2012