Monday, September 17, 2007

Trade Union Reports 144 Union Members Murdered in 2006, Most in Colombia

That's according to a report released today:

PARIS (AFP) — Nearly 150 labour activists were killed worldwide in 2006, a new global trade union said in a report Tuesday outlining a rising tide of violence and harassment against unionists across the globe.

The number killed of activists killed rose to 144 from 115 in 2005, while 800 were injured or tortured and more than 5,000 arrested and 500 jailed, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) said.

But here's the important bit for those keen lovers of the war on terror:

A single country, Colombia, accounted for more than half the victims with 78 unionists killed last year, according to the ITUC's first annual survey of rights violations since being founded in November 2006.

Colombian President Alvaro Uribe is spending millions to "tell the world that the situation is Colombia is improving ... instead of using its resources to tackle the real problem," ITUC secretary general Guy Ryder says in the report.

Yes, once again Colombia is singled out as a particularly dangerous country in which to be a union member. Hardly surprising when various members of Uribe's government have close ties to right-wing paramilitaries. Being a trade unionist in Colombia is akin to having a death sentence passed on you. However, the condemnation goes beyond Colombia and its appalling human rights record:

Dozens of labour activists were kept in jail in China, Myanmar and Cuba for pursuing independent trade union work, while in countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, trade unions remained banned altogether.

In the United States, it said "millions more were deprived of organising and bargaining rights" after a federal ruling expanded the definition of a "supervisor," who do not have the right to vote in union elections.

In Europe, meanwhile, the ITUC quoted the corporate social responsibility firm Vigeo as saying that less than 10 percent of all companies fully upheld union rights and promote collective bargaining.

As capitalism grows, thus does the representation of the workers diminish. The reason? union representation and the fight for workers' rights impedes the growth of capitalism and is therefore an obstacle to be removed. Workers rights are being eroded by the owners of capital to ensure that capital remains in the hands of the few and certainly not in the hands of the workers. That Colombia manages to consolidate this through murder without censure, underlines the very inhumane nature of this murderous system. Capitalism kills.