ENS Labour Information Agency AIL Summary for the Month of March 2018

Puedes leer el resumen en español aquí

These are the 4 most relevant items issued by ENS’s Labour Information Agency during the month of March 2018. Here we offer you a summary of them:

–Social and trade union organisations request Colombia not be admitted to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development OECD.
–Labour Ministry declares illegal collective imposed by ECOPETROL 41 years.
–Medellin Metro’s trade union denounces anti trade union persecution, also involving the Police.
– Special Report: Discrimination and violence against women in Colombia’s labour market.


March 21

Social and Trade Union Organisations Ask Colombia Not be Admitted to OECD

The CUT and CTC trade union federations, and various NGOs, among these ENS, have requested that the Colombian Administration and the Secretary General of OECD reconsider accepting the country’s admittance into this organisation, because Colombia does not fulfil all its requirements.

People are invited to sign the petition available at this link http://bit.ly/2Domsuh

Colombia´s trade union movement has always been opposed to joining OECD. Accompanied by CSA representing the international trade union movement, the CUT, CTC and CGT federations toured several European countries, explaining the reasons why they do not consider this move convenient, alleging that Colombia does not comply with OCDE demands regarding employment, social security and trade union freedoms. In spite of this opposition, the labour section was recently approved in Paris.

Only the trade aspect is pending approval now, and in this respect North American entrepreneurs are pressuring the U.S. Administration not to accept Colombia’s entry, as the country does not comply with guidelines regarding used-vehicle destruction, patents or the control of prices for medicines. The Colombian Administration would accept three negative reforms for the country: the fiscal one, the pension one and labour flexibility.

Other reasons why Colombia should not join OCDE have to do with overwhelming corruption, deficiencies in educational coverage and lack of enough investment in science, technology and development. In the last PISA ranking, carried out by OCDE, Colombia occupied the 57th place in science, among a rank of 70.

Another disadvantage is the high cost of joining OCDE. Membership costs between 14.000 million pesos and 29.000 million pesos, plus representation costs at each of the 23 committees.

March 20

Ministry of Labour Declares Illegal ECOPETROL Collective Pact in Effect 41 Years

Agreement 01, by which the State oil company ECOPETROL grants better benefits to workers not belonging to the trade union than to those who do join the trade union, has been declared illegal by the Ministry of Labour, which has ruled that ECOPETROL must pay a fine and dismantle the practice.

Agreement 01 is a sort of collective pact designed to benefit professionals and top management staff if they do not join the trade union. It divides workers into two payrolls, one which is the conventional one, signed between USO and ECOPETROL. Those who qualify for Agreement 01 get more benefits than workers affiliated to the trade-union, sometimes as high as 20% to 30% more.

According to the Ministry of Labour, this practice has allowed ECOPETROL to undermine trade union affiliation, making workers unfit to get all the labour rights they are entitled to. The Attorney General’s Office has been requested to investigate ECOPETROL for violation to the right of trade-union association.

USO is confident that this decision will make ECOPETROL correct its stance against the trade union, and change its labour practice of 41 years, allowing the company´s professionals and top management staff to join the trade union.

ECOPETROL has not yet pronounced itself publicly on the subject, and it is quite likely that the company will appeal the decision before the State Council. The recent ruling also affects the company’s image at an international level, as its anti-trade union stance violates the United Nations’ Global Pact, and the company did undersign it, committing itself to certifying that it does not discriminate against human rights and the right of trade-union association, and to honouring these two mandates.

March 23

Trade Union of Medellin Metro denounces Anti-Trade Union Persecution, Including the Police

During the past few weeks relations between the Metro of Medellin public enterprise and its trade union Sintrametro, have been strained: after 40 days of negotiation regarding a collective convention, the parties have not come to an agreement.

Workers have held rallies and meetings denouncing the company´s refusal to contemplate its collective-bargaining plea.

“The company says it respects the right of association, but in reality it does the opposite. Not only does it not discuss important issues with its workers, but it has also resorted to the police, requesting that the force blocks worker activities. It seeks to silence workers and to prevent people in Medellin from knowing what is really happening in the Metro”, affirms Claudia Montoya, President of the trade union.

Montoya points out that many important points included in the plea have not even been summarily discussed, and that some of the company’s proposals are “humiliating” for the workers. “Our plea takes into consideration the company´s technical and economic sustainability. There is nothing extravagant about it”, she added.

The trade union deems that the statements made against it by the metro’s manager are ‘irresponsible’, as the Medellin Metro has attempted to blame the trade union for the faults in its system occurring in the past few weeks.

Sintrametro carried out an assembly of its members in order to decide whether to appeal to the Arbitration Tribunal without further delay, as the option to hold a strike is not possible, the Metro being considered an essential public service.

March 8

Discrimination and Violence against Women in the Labour Sphere

On March 8, International Women’s Rights Day, AIL published a report on the status of Colombian women in the labour market, as labour inequality happens to be one of the greatest expressions of the gender gap existing in our society.

According to the National Statistics Department DANE, for 2017 the Global Rate of Labour Participation was 54.4% for women and 74.8% for men. The 20 point difference reveals the difficulties women encounter in the labour market.

In 2016, the difference between male versus female wages was 19 points. That is, women earned 81% of the salaries that men earned, regardless of the fact that they had more academic qualifications in that same year: women had an average of 9.6 years of schooling, while men only had 8.5 years of schooling.

In 2017, the unemployment rate for women was 12.3%, while for men it was 7.2%, revealing a difference of 5.1 points. The situation is worse for young women, who almost double male rate of unemployment with a 21.1%, versus 12.2% among young men.

The kinds of jobs women and men undertake also reveal gender inequality. Women tend to participate much more in domestic work, or as house workers without any pay at all, while men have more jobs as regular employees or as self-standing workers.

Although trade-union violence hits men more than women (in 2017 and the few months of 2018, there have been 204 violations to the lives, liberties and physical integrities of trade-union affiliates: 186 men and 18 women), violence takes on special characteristics when it is exerted against women.

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