Archive article from The Socialist Issue 309
Fight For Trade Union Rights In Colombia
There are many companies in Colombia who use violence and repression to try and stop trade union activists. 184 trade unionists were assassinated in Colombia last year, more than the rest of the world combined.
Sinaltrainal (the National Union of Workers in the Colombian Food Industry), has appealed for support from workers around the world and called for a boycott of Coca-Cola from 22 July.
A private army of paramilitaries has terrorised the workforce and tried to smash the union. They have so far assassinated eight workers who were local union leaders and three union members have been forced into exile. Over 60 live under the shadow of death threats and 48 others have been displaced.
Sinaltrainal union president, Javier Correa, describes conditions in Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling plants: "The paramilitaries have graffitied threats and accusations against us on the walls of the bottling plants. These plants have become like concentration camps. The army patrols the buildings. There is so much repression that union workers are even followed into the toilet. One worker killed himself. In his suicide note he blamed Coca-Cola".
And he explains the corporation's attitude:
ISR members and supporters will be holding protests on 22 July in support of trade union rights for the Coca-Cola workers and all workers across Colombia who face similar repression.
There will be more protests and actions taking place around the country. To find out what's happening in your area or if you want help in organising your own protest, please contact ISR on 020 8558 7947.
Low Pay - No Way!
Did you know that the chief executive of Tesco receives £916,000 a year basic salary? If he works a 40 hour week this means he gets £440.38 an hour! On top of this obscene pay, he received 'additional benefits' during 2002 bringing his total pay package to £2.8million!
Clare James, ISR national co-ordinator
Yet a 16 year-old Tesco worker can get paid as little as £3.77 an hour, less than 1% of what the chief executive earns.
While the bosses and managers say that they can't put up our pay or improve our conditions, they always find the money to pay themselves fat-cat wages! We do the work that produces huge profits for our employers and all we get in return is poverty pay.
It is low pay, job losses and bad working conditions, as well as privatisation and other cuts in public services, that are leading more and more workers across the country to take strike action.
International Socialist Resistance (ISR) members in workplaces are campaigning for more young workers in every job to get organised and fight back too.
As young people we are often forced to work in shops, bars, catering or factory work. Many of these jobs are low-paid, casual, part-time and in unsafe working conditions. The government, under huge pressure from workers fed up with poverty wages, introduced the minimum wage. Yet the levels set are still too low - £4.20 an hour if you are over 22 and an even lower rate, £3.60 an hour, for 18-21 year olds. There is no legal minimum for workers under the age of 18.
ISR is campaigning in Britain and internationally against employers that are exploiting young workers in sweatshops, paying poverty wages and providing unsafe working conditions.
If you would like to get involved in our campaign, find out more etc, please get in touch.
INTERNATIONAL SOCIALIST Resistance (ISR) is an international anti-capitalist youth organisation with groups in many different countries.
Initiated by the Socialist Party, ISR is a democratic, broad organisation fighting for a socialist alternative to capitalism.
For more details write to: ISR, PO Box 858, London, E11 1YG. Tel: 020 8558 7947. firstname.lastname@example.org