In May 2016, the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), together with the CUT (Central Unitaria de Trabajadores) Colombia and Colombian unions , submitted a complaint to the Canadian National Administrative Office (NAO) stating the Government of Colombia failed to comply with its obligations under the Canada-Colombia Agreement on Labour Cooperation (CCOALC).
The complaint addressed issues of anti-union violence and the abuse of sub contracting, leading to violations of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. In January 2017, the NAO released its investigative report, which found significant evidence of failure on the part of the Government of Colombia to comply with its obligations under the CCOALC. The report confirmed long-standing complaints of violence and intimidation used to restrict workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining.
The report made a number of recommendations, including that Canada and Colombia engage in ministerial consultations to develop a multi-year action plan to address these recommendations.
Included in the action plan are measures to: remove union contracts, collective pacts, labour intermediation and subcontracting to protect workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining; improve compliance with and enforcement of labour laws through a strengthened labour inspectorate; and strengthen efforts to fight impunity and violence in the country by bringing those responsible to justice.
This week, the Honourable Patty A. Hajdu, Minister of Employment, Workplace and Development and Labour, and the Minister of Labour of Colombia, Griselda Restrepo, signed the action plan, which must be implemented within three years.
The CLC and Colombian unions express satisfaction with the action plan as the outcome of the two-year process following the initial submission of the complaint.
Moving forward, we will continue to work collaboratively with government bodies. We expect a committed adherence to the action plan, and we will rigorously monitor its implementation.