Guatemala: new hope for workers with Alvaro Colom

Alvaro Colom began his term of office as president of Guatemala on Monday 14 January. In a letter sent to the new president, the ITUC underlined the need for strong leadership if he is to win the fight for social inclusion and against corruption, narcotrafficking and discrimination. Guatemala is a country plagued by violence and impunity, where labour legislation only exists in theory, the union movement is subject to constant repression and unionists remain under threat.
 The ITUC is organising an international conference on the role of trade union organisations in the fight against impunity, to be held from 29 to 31 January 2008 in Guatemala City, and has invited President Colom to inaugurate it. The conference will bring together key political, trade union and social figures from Guatemala and Central America, along with representatives from the regional and international trade union movement. The aim is to develop and implement political and trade union strategies to promote core labour standards, to strengthen the unions’ capacity to fight impunity, and to ensure that the murders of trade unionists are fully investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice.

The election of Alvaro Colom as the president of Guatemala has brought renewed hope. The international trade union movement, headed by the ITUC, will keep a close watch on the situation of workers in the country. “The workers of Guatemala are entitled to exercise their trade union rights,” said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder, in conformity with the eight Core Conventions of the ILO signed but not fully respected by Guatemala, as shown by the unyielding attacks on trade unionists, the violation of their rights, their abduction and murder. The year 2007 alone saw the murder of Pedro Zamora, General Secretary of STEPQ, in January, two trade unionists from FESTRI, in February, and Marco Tulio Ramírez of SITRABI, in September. The year was closed with a heavily armed attack, on New Year’s Eve, against the home of trade union leader Carlos Enrique Mancilla Garcia, Labour and Disputes Secretary of the CUSG (Confederación de Unidad Sindical de Guatemala), affiliated to the ITUC.

links: Trade unionist’s home attacked
Union rights in Guatemala
Labour standards in Guatemala
Colom’s pledges to Fight Poverty

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